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Thursday, November 14 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION:

In the past few weeks we have been considering the virtues, graces or seeds of the fruit of the Spirit - the result of God’s presence within us. According to our text Gal.5:22, “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, [AMP]

We have since considered love, peace, patience (longsuffering) and in today’s study we shall be considering kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.

  1. KINDNESS

Kindness is defined as the quality of being generous, helpful, and caring about other people. It conveys the meaning of moral goodness, integrity, usefulness, and compassion. In the King James Version this word is translated “gentleness,” which links it to the meaning of a gentleman or a gentlewoman, someone who behaves properly, with moral integrity. Romans 2:4 reminds us that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance not judgement. The Holy Spirit enables us to have moral integrity with kindness and not get trapped in self-righteousness judgement.

 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

  • Kindness is part of God’s nature

God's kindness can be personal, meant especially for one person. David experienced God's kindness, and he praised God for it, saying, "He reached down from on high and took hold of me" (Psalm 18:16).

God's kindness may also affect many people in a particular way. God shows His kindness through the ongoing provision described in Acts 14:17: "He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons."

  • We must show Kindness

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you. [AMP]

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” 2 Samuel 9:7

  1. GOODNESS

Goodness means uprightness of heart and life.  Goodness is seen in our actions not just the words of our mouths. This word relates to not only being good, but also doing good things. The Contemporary English Version of 2 Thessalonians 1:11 highlights this meaning, “We pray for God's power to help you do all the good things you hope to do, and your faith makes you want to do.”  Through the Holy Spirit's work in Christians' lives, they are upright in heart, and they do good things. God knows how much we love Him by how much we are showing self-sacrificing love for other people.

In man, Goodness is not a mere passive quality, but the deliberate preference of right to wrong, the firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following of all moral good.

  • Goodness is part of God’s nature

In the Bible, the “goodness” of God often refers to His gracious generosity in providing abundantly for mankind’s needs and benefits (Psalms 23:6; Psalms 65:11). It can also refer to God’s generous mercy and patience that allow more time for sinners to repent (Romans 2:4).

But God’s goodness is much more than those things. It is the very essence of God’s nature— His righteousness and holiness. In Ephesians 5:9, we see that His goodness is closely associated with righteousness and truth. To the extent that we have God’s goodness, we have godliness or God-likeness.

  • We must do Good continually

Just as Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). So must we! Good works include obeying God’s laws. We have been “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10).

Christ said to do good to everyone, even our enemies! “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Luke 6:27-28).

Doing good to someone who does good to you, Jesus points out in (Luke 6:32-33), is not pure goodness. It is rather two people exchanging favours, which can be at least partly selfish. God’s standard is the very highest!

 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith [fellow believers] (Galatians 6:9-10).

  1. FAITHFULNESS

Faithfulness is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Faithfulness is a character trait that combines dependability and trust based on our confidence in God and His eternal faithfulness.

It implies the following: that a person is strict or thorough in the performance of their duty (Matt. 25:21, Col.1:7), that one is true to one's word, promises, vows, etc., and they are steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant, reliable, trusted, or believed.

  • Faithfulness is part of God’s nature

"O Lord God Almighty! Where is there anyone as mighty as You, Lord? Faithfulness is Your very character" (Psalm 89:8).

Faithfulness is at the heart of all that God is and does. His truthfulness, holiness, love, righteousness, and other attributes ensure His faithfulness. He is incapable of being otherwise. God is faithful to protect us from temptation and the evil one. (1 Corinthians 10:13), He is faithful to us even when we are unfaithful. (2 Timothy 2:13). He is faithful to fulfil His promises. (Hebrews 10:23). He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9), etc.

  • We must be Faithful (Especially to God)

We must remain faithful to God and to our commitments. 1 Corinthians 4:2 says “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”

Without faithfulness to God there can be no Christian life. Christianity is based first on faith that God is, and then that through Christ Jesus we can be forgiven and are saved. Our faithfulness is a commitment to adhere to the One God who is true and supreme and to keep His commandments.

Proverbs 16:6-7 - “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil. When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.”

CONCLUSION

God is just as concerned about our heart as He is our actions. James in James 4:8 wrote to the early Christians:

“Cleanse your hands [actions], you sinners; and purify your hearts [attitudes], you double-minded [straddling the fence between God and the world]”

Pure hearts require right motives. Paul said that if he did good works without love, “it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Doing good deeds, being kind and being faithful to impress others will bring no reward from God (Matthew 6:1-4). But when the motive is to “glorify your Father in heaven” instead of yourself, doing good works that are seen by others is part of being “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16). So our hearts should match our actions. Once God’s Spirit is at work within us, it produces the wonderful fruit of the Spirit; expressing itself in these graces: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). These virtues, seeds or graces, blend together to reflect the overall character of God expressed by us!

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:52 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, October 19 2019

Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye

INTRODUCTION:

We have been looking at various seeds of the fruit of the Spirit (Love, Joy and Peace). We have discovered that there is only one fruit of the Spirit, but it has multiple seeds or graces. With Love we learnt that first, love must be directed to God, to ourselves, then to our fellow men. We went further then to look at Joy where we learnt that joy is God’s nature and character! And since God is exceedingly joyful, His servants should also be joyful! And then last week we studied the definition of peace, examples of peace to follow and concluded with the demonstration of Peace. In today’s study we will be looking at “longsuffering”.

“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]

  • LONGSUFFERING is…

Merriam Webster dictionary defines longsuffering as patiently enduring lasting offense or hardship.”

Jack Wellman describes longsuffering in short has suffering long! He went on further to say, “It refers to a great deal of patience or endurance of something or someone like an illness or the mistreatment by others of one’s self”.

God’s people (Christians) are to be Christ-like and we are to walk in the Spirit. This means, among other things, showing the fruit of the Spirit manifesting as love, joy, peace, and now longsuffering.
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ongsuffering is in God’s character as we see it in:

  • Psalm 86:15 - “But you, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth”;
  • Num. 14:18 – “The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy…….”; and
  • Ex 34:6 – “…The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth”.

Longsuffering enables us to never give up, regardless of life’s difficulties or trials. The opposite of longsuffering is having a short fuse and being quick to react in an angry, irritated, short-tempered manner in a stressful challenging situation. When you have longsuffering, you are always trying to look for the positive and highlighting that rather than murmuring and complaining.

  • EXPRESSING LONGSUFFERING…

Expressing this seed of the fruit of the Spirit means handing over whatever difficult, annoying or frustrating, situation to Him, asking that God will bless you and make you a blessing despite it, or by means of it, and through it. In the end God will take care of everything, and the trials now in circumstances will soon be over.

Joni Eareckson Tada said: “The times we find ourselves having to wait on others, [or be longsuffering towards them] may be the perfect opportunities to train ourselves to wait on the Lord [and to remember His longsuffering towards us].” And James also said in James 5:8: “You also be patient [longsuffering]; establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

The Holy Spirit works this seed of longsuffering out in and through us by guiding us in faith and humbleness and giving us an everlasting perspective in life.

  • WHY IS LONGSUFFERING IMPORTANT?

The Longsuffering seed is part of God’s renewing work on His people’s lives by His grace and Spirit. When we become able to “suffer long” towards others, it shows much of God’s grace and graciousness in us proving we are living truly in faith and depending upon God.

On the flip side, when we are unable to express longsuffering, it often brings a lot of disgrace to the gospel and our Christian testimony. Think about it, do you easily get drawn to a person who easily gets upset with other people (“short fused), someone who is impatient and exhibits bad-tempered in difficult situations? No, it makes you uncomfortable right? That’s why having longsuffering is essential as it brings a calm disposition and it helps in promoting endurance and perseverance to the end. This is attenable by God’s grace and through His Spirit and Word as your guide and refuge.

  • DEVELOPING LONGSUFFERING

Some people are naturally patient while some also come from families and or churches where patience was taught as a virtue and practiced. Longsuffering is slightly similar but also quite different. The longsuffering we are talking about today is a result of the fruit of the spirit. As previously discussed, it manifests itself in patience, mercy, forgiveness, and in facing and enduring trials with courage and perseverance.

Let us link this quickly to the “love chapter” - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Notice how many times longsuffering appears in its various manifestations, covering all angles. I would like us to do a quick exercise exercising the “power of the tongue” by inserting your name in this confession below:

<YOUR NAME> suffers long with kindness, I refuse to be easily provoked to anger, I refuse to ever wish to get revenge, and I will endure any suffering and persecution life throws at me.

We can accomplish all this through God in us - Agape! We therefore need to ask God every time to fill us with longsuffering. God is very longsuffering. That is one of His traits. His Spirit in us gives us that same quality that emanates from God. But for it to be the real thing it must be from God.

Colossians 1:9-11: “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering  with joy;”

CONCLUSION

It is hard to suffer long in this world without the Holy Spirit. Hence why people without God find it hard to live through hardships and agonies life throws at them, they lack the hope of an eternal future which is free from all suffering. We should always pray for these sets of individuals. Pray that God grants them repentance so that they too can be saved. Until that happens, we must be kind to them, continue daily to pray for them, love them, and be longsuffering in their struggle to our belief in Christ because at some point so were, we!

Let us ask God to fill us with this amazing gift more than ever before and by so doing we will reap the benefits of having more self-discipline in the face of provocation. Making us less willing to retaliate, less easily provoked to anger but rather more merciful, less liable to surrender to circumstances and less likely to crumble under trials and full of hope.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, October 10 2019

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Introduction

We will continue our study of the Fruit of the Spirit as we consider another of the seed, result or grace called Peace. During the last meeting, we had an in-depth study of Joy. We learnt and discovered that Joy is more than a definition, Joy is spiritual! We learnt from the scriptures that the root of Joy is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We also learnt that since Joy is spiritual, this is different from Happiness, which is rooted in emotion.

Today, we will consider Peace and the significance and meaning of this manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in general.

 

What Really Are the “Graces”, seeds or “results” of the “Fruit of the Holy Spirit?

Quite a number of Christians still believe that these graces of “fruit of the Spirit” are things to strive for and work towards in the Christian life. These are the things God wants us to do to be “better Christians”. This has been the lesson taught on this verse many times and it sounds pretty good.

However, it will appear that this teaching directly betrays the meaning of the passage and the overall context. Specifically, at issue here is the nature of fruit. The idea of fruit is used throughout the New Testament almost always as an illustrative idea and not as literal fruit (apples, oranges, etc.). The theological idea of fruit is that of a natural result. An apple tree produces apples. An orange tree produces oranges. An apple tree will not produce an orange. No matter how hard an apple tree might try to produce an orange it will always be a losing battle. Yet, an orange tree has no problem producing an orange. In fact, everything from the roots to the branches are made to do just that.

Paul uses of the word “fruit” here to complete an idea that started earlier in the passage (Galatians 5:16-17 AMP).

The Christian has something unique that the rest of the world does not. We can choose to complete our daily activity, “walk”, by our own resources, a.k.a. “the flesh”, or by recognizing our lack of ability to produce Christ-like characteristics and trusting the Holy Spirit to work through us in our daily activity.

The fruit of these two trees (the flesh and the Spirit) are predictable. When we choose to go through any activity of our day by our own resources, our flesh tree will only ever produce flesh fruit, some of which are listed Galatians 5 vs 19-21. We might be able to cover up our flesh with a smile, justification, or comparative morality (“my flesh is not as bad as so-and-so’s flesh”), but it will always truly be fruit that is sickly and rotten at the core. No matter how much we might desire the opposite kind of fruit we can never, nor will we ever, produce it by our own efforts.

 “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts and passions. 13 Do not go on offering members of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness. But offer yourselves to God [in a decisive act] as those alive [raised] from the dead [to a new life], and your members [all of your abilities—sanctified, set apart] as instruments of righteousness [yielded] to God.”

Romans 6:12-13 AMP

On the other hand, when we choose to offer ourselves to God and allow Him to work through us, our Spirit tree will only ever produce Spirit fruit.

What is Peace?

The word Paul used for peace was the Greek word eirene. This word includes the meaning “peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon).

Peace is the opposite of James 4:1-4. Notice Philippians 4:6-7:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (emphasis added throughout).

God’s perfect peace is one of those wonderfully deep things of God that have not “entered into the heart of man” but are only “spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:9,14). The fruit of the Spirit of peace also provides the inner peace of mind and contentment found by living God’s way of life—even in less-than-peaceful situations.

Peace is more than the absence of war or something felt in the mind. It is a way of living life in a proper relationship between man and God, as well as man and man.

Why Does God Want Us to Demonstrate Peace?

Peace is so alien a thing in this world. Imagine a world:

  • Where people actually let others finish speaking instead of interrupting them.
  • Where people don’t have heated arguments.
  • Where differences are settled with patience rather than fists.
  • Where people show compassion to others even when they don’t deserve it.

Why, in Romans 12:18, does Paul say, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men”? He said this because God wants His entire creation to be at peace, and this must start one person at a time.

The coming Kingdom of God will be one of peace; and if we are to be a part of it, we must demonstrate this reality. Christ explicitly explained this in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). So why does God want us to demonstrate peace? God wants us to be a part of His family as sons and daughters, and His family must be peaceful. Eventually the whole world will be part of this peaceful family; but now, amidst the hatred and conflict, it must start with us.

An Example of Peace to Follow

A great example of making peace can be found in the story of Abram (whose name was later changed to Abraham) and his nephew Lot. The two were traveling together, but their possessions were too great and their herdsmen began bickering and fighting over grazing land.

Abram came to Lot and said: “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left” (Genesis 13:8-9).

Instead of letting anger build up and shouting accusations, Abram calmly assessed the situation and made a suggestion, giving Lot the preference. His example shows that making peace might involve sacrifice of comfort and preference. But God blessed the results of Abram’s efforts at peace and recorded it as an example for us.

Conclusion – Demonstration of Peace

We must practice the way of peace starting in the only area we can really affect: our sphere of influence. Remember, Paul urged us “if it is possible” and “as much as depends on you” to live peaceably with “all men.” This will be challenging. Here are a few ideas:

  • Drop conversations that are getting out of hand. This might involve saying something like: “Let’s agree to disagree.” Then be satisfied that you can’t change someone else’s mind about certain things. Peace is knowing that God’s intervention might be necessary to change someone’s thinking (including our own).
  • Make yourself stand out as the calm and collected one in whatever encounters you experience. Others may fight or say insulting, jealous or prideful things, but we should edify, build up and walk away from an encounter if necessary.
  • Respect other human beings as potential future members of the family of God. Remind yourself that God does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9), no matter how angry you are at the person at the moment.

Some parts of this study culled from https://www.compellingtruth.org; https://www.ucg.org; https://lifehopeandtruth.com

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 04:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, September 19 2019

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

“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,” [AMP]

INTRODUCTION

We started our in-depth study of the fruit of the spirit last week. We discovered that the true evidence of our salvation is by the fruit we bear according to Matthew 7:16 (KJV) “You will know them by their fruits.”

We discovered that, according to our text, there is only one fruit of the Spirit but with multiple seeds or graces. The branch can not produce any fruit without been connected to the vine or root according to John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches.”

Love, the fruit of the Spirit that we studied last week, is nonpartial and unconditional. It is Agape - the highest form of love. The origin is in God according to Rom.5:5; “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

First, love must be directed to God, to ourselves, then to our fellow man.

This week, we are looking at JOY, one of the seeds or graces of the fruit of the spirit.

We are living in a world that is under constant bombardment of negative news and evil round the clock. Majority of people are constantly looking for something to make them happy. Daily, many are in pursuit of happiness but not knowing that the joy of the Lord is what they need (Neh.8:10).

The world has a woeful shortage of joy and a surplus of fear, worry, discouragement and depression. Even all the advancement of man in “pursuit of happiness” and obsessive pleasure-seeking do not bring deep and lasting joy.

  • What is Joy?:

Merriam Webster dictionary defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”

However, joy is more than that definition! Joy is spiritual. Its root is the Lord according John 15:11; “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Rick Warren wrote; “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”

John Piper wrote; “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.”

  • Difference between joy and happiness:

Happiness is an emotion. “Hap” means chance and is the root of several words; happen, happening, haphazard (dependent on mere chance), hapless, happenstance (a chance circumstance) and happy.

It is a glad feeling that depends on something good happening. God wants you to experience happy times (as long as God approves of what is happening). Ps.127:3-5 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. 5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.”

God never intended for people to be in that emotional state all the time. There is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

Biblical Joy transcends circumstances according to Hab.3:17-18 “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Joy is a strong foundation that supports a variety of healthy emotions, including happiness. The long-range evidence of joy is general gratitude, contentment, optimism, a sense of freedom and other positive attitudes. It is rooted in the Lord not external happenings.

  • The Source and spring of joy; Ps.16:11

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

God is joyful far more than any human being ever was and ever can! It’s tragic that many people think of God as somber and stern rather than cheerful and smiling with a great sense of humor. He is enjoying His creation, and especially the delightful anticipation of many new “sons of God” (Luk.15:7).

True followers (imitators) of God will be joyful also. Psalms 68:3 says, “Let the righteous be glad; … let them rejoice exceedingly.” God desires that we serve Him “with joy and gladness of heart” (Deuteronomy 28:47).

The source of our joy is the Lord and our relationship with Him connect us to that unending flow of joy unspeakable, full of Glory (1Pet.1:8).

Joy is a major topic in the Bible. In the King James Version, “joy” appears 158 times and “rejoice” 198 times (not counting other variations such as joyful, joyfully, joyous, jubilant, happy and glad).

Joy is not optional. The Bible repeatedly commands us to rejoice! The most emphatic exhortation is in Phil. 4:4, where Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!”

  • Is it wrong to have sorrow? 2 Corin.7:10

“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

The Bible describes two kinds of sorrow.  “godly sorrow and then sorrow of the world. Godly sorrow can be the sorrow of repentance toward God or mourning over the suffering of others while having the joy of knowing that God will eventually solve all problems according to Matt.5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

God grieves: Gen.6:6, The Holy Spirit grieves; Eph.4:30, Jesus grieved; Mark 3:5 and he wept like any human with emotion according to John 11:35. We are not disobeying scripture when we grieve, but it is wrong to remain in sorrow because it will open the door for our enemy; Prov.15:13 “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”

  • Sin is the enemy of Joy; Sin separates us from God, our source of joy. After committing adultery, David cried out in agony over his lost joy; Ps.51:11-12

“Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”

CONCLUSION

Joy is God’s nature and character! The evidence is everywhere in God’s creation; birds singing, animals leaping, flowers blooming, brooks babbling and the sun shining! Many people would be less depressed if they would spend more time outside. God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1Tim.6:17).

Since God is exceedingly joyful, His servants should also be joyful! Sadly, many who claim to be His disciples are austere, sour and dour. But take note of Luke’s description of true disciples: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52).

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:35 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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]

INTRODUCTION

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

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)

  • Love never gives up.

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.”

  • Love cares more for others than for self.

Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” [NIV]

  • Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

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]

  • Love doesn’t strut,

James 4:16: “As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil”

  • Doesn’t have a swelled head,

James 4:6b: “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

  • Doesn’t force itself on others,

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”

  • Isn’t always “me first,”

Romans 10:12: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves”

  • Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Prov. 25:28: “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”

  • Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

1 Peter 4:8b “love covers over a multitude of sins.”

  • Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Proverbs 24:17: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,”

  • Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Psalms 1:2: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night

  • Puts up with anything

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.”

  • Trusts God always,

Prov. 3:5a: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart”

  • Always looks for the best,

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.”

  • Never looks back,

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.”

  • But keeps going to the end.

Matt.24:13: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

  • Love never dies.

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.”

CONCLUSION

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/

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:33 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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.”

  1. VERSE 19 - THE FLESH MANIFESTED

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)

  1. VERSE 20 - CATEGORIZATION OF THE WORKS OF THE FLESH

(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:

  • Ephesians 5:5 (TLB) “You can be sure of this: The Kingdom of Christ and of God will never belong to anyone who is impure or greedy, for a greedy person is really an idol worshiper—he loves and worships the good things of this life more than God”
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 (TLB) “For God wants you to be holy and pure and to keep clear of all sexual sin so that each of you will marry in holiness and honour—"
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:6 (TLB) And this also is God’s will: that you never cheat in this matter by taking another man’s wife because the Lord will punish you terribly for this, as we have solemnly told you before.”

(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/

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:34 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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

  1. (Vs 13-15) Using Liberty to Love One Another

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!

  1. For you, brethren, have been called to liberty: Paul writes to brethren. These are those who are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3: 26). These are those who were baptised into Christ and have put on Christ (Galatians 3: 27).
  2. These ones have been called to liberty. Paul reiterated on this point- the Christian life is a life of liberty. Jesus came to set the captives free, not to keep them in bondage or put them in bondage all over again. Freedom is the essence of being Christian. It is the fundamental basis of all Christian living. Now we are called to stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ Has made us free (Gal 5:1). Now the question is, “how will we use our liberty?”
  3. Only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh: Christians are to ensure that liberty is not used as an excuse to sin as they please, or say sorry, or “oh Lord please forgive me” and then go back doing whatever they want again. Moreover, we should not take the glorious freedom Jesus has given us and use it to please ourselves at the expenses of others. Liberty is the Spirit-given desire and ability to do what we should do before God. It should not be construed as the right to sin.
  4. But through love serve one another: This is the antidote for using liberty as an occasion for the flesh. The flesh expects others to conform to us and doesn’t care much about others. But when we through love serve one another, we conquer the flesh. This is the pattern set by Jesus. He had more liberty than anyone who ever walked this earth did. Nevertheless, He used His liberty to through love serve one another.
  5. For all the law is fulfilled: This attitude of service towards one another fulfils the great commandment (You shall love your neighbour as yourself), and it keeps us from destroying ourselves through strife (beware lest you be consumed by one another).
  6. Bite and devour one another: Believers should not use liberty as a platform to promote selfishness. Selfish people will eventually be consumed by one another. “The loveless life is a life lived on the level of animals, with a concern only for oneself, no matter what the cost to other people”- (Morris).

 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.

  • i. Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh: If we walk in the Spirit (instead of trying to live by the law), we naturally shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  To walk in the Spirit means the Holy Spirit lives in you. It also means to be open and sensitive to the influence of the Holy Spirit. It also means to pattern your life after the influence of the Holy Spirit. Someone who walks in the Spirit will look a lot like Jesus. Jesus told us the mission of the Holy Spirit would be to promote and speak of Him (John 14: 16-17, 14: 26, 15: 26, 16: 13- 15). When someone walks in the Spirit, they listen to what the Holy Spirit says as He guides us in the path and nature of Jesus.
  • ii. And you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh: There is no way anyone can fulfil the lust of the flesh as they walk in the Spirit. The two simply don’t go together. The Holy Spirit doesn’t move in us to gratify our fallen desires and passions, but to teach us about Jesus and to guide us in the path of Jesus. This is the key to righteous living- walking in the Spirit, not living under the dominion of the law.
  • iii. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: Walking in the Spirit is the key, but it doesn’t always come easily. It is a battle on inside the Christian and the battle is between the flesh and the Spirit. These are contrary to one another, in other words they don’t get along at all. When the flesh is winning the inside battle, you do not do the things that you wish. You don’t live the way you want to; you live under the flesh instead of under the Spirit. “The Greek word sarx is translated as flesh. “When Paul speaks of sarx he means all that man is and capable of as a sinful human being apart from the unmerited intervention of God’s Spirit in his life”- (Boice). The flesh is the inner man that exist apart from the “old man” or the “new man” and which is trained in rebellion by the old nature, the world and the devil. Even though the old man was crucified with Christ and is dead and gone (Rom 6:6), his influence lives on through the flesh, and he will battle against us until we experience God’s final antidote to the flesh: a resurrection body.
  • iv. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law: The antidote to the flesh is not found in the law, but in the Spirit. If you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. You don’t need to be, because you fulfil the will of God through the inner influence of the Holy Spirit instead of the outer influence of the law of God. When the flesh begins to show up, the only remedy is to take the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of salvation and fight against the flesh.

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.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:15 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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)

  1. Freedom: This points out the goal of the redemptive work of Christ (Christ freed us in order that we might be free). The Law produces bondage – the opposite of freedom so therefore living under the law is living in bondage hence why Paul is reminding the Galatians Church here that Christ has already set us free with the gospel.
  2. Stay Free: Here we see that you require commitment to maintain your freedom. Naturally human beings have the tendency of returning to their bondage (dwelling in our sins/mistakes) and unless we exercise our freedom, we will be drawn back into bondage. Paul’s words here highlights why spiritual laziness is so serious in the Word of God.
  3. Do not get tied up again in slavery: We are personally accountable if we happen to fall back into bondage. It’s never any-one else’s fault (shifting blame) or a choice we make without knowing, no. We fall back into bondage because we allow ourselves to.

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.

  • Faith works by means of the Spirit: We are empowered by the Holy Spirit which is the Spirit of God that works through men of faith. He empowers us to live an acceptable life in God’s sight.
  • Faith works through love: Some believe that right living is displayed in outward, physical for external forms (Matt 6:1-2) but the faith of a “true” believer is revealed through love. The characteristics by which we know God’s people are the “fruit of the Spirit”, beginning with love.

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.

CONCLUSION

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.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 12:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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.”

  • You would have plucked out your eyes for me – What changed? Sometimes our relationships gradually fall apart like the relationship between Paul and the Galatians. This is not something that happens overnight. Instead it happens little by little. Why? How can we prevent this slippery slope into disunity? (See Ephesians 4:3*)
  • I have become your enemy? – While we should never strive to be an enemy to others, sometimes people will consider us as an enemy if we tell them the truth. In those cases, we must fulfill our responsibilities faithfully. We answer to God for our actions. Hopefully we will keep a clear conscience that we are blameless if those relationships fail. In like manner, the other side also answers to God for their actions. We are responsible for what we do, not for what others do.
  • Be honest and sincere in proclaiming the gospel (vs 18). Paul sought them out in a commendable manner. His motivations were sincere and genuine. Unfortunately, the false teachers did not match his sincerity. Instead they took advantage of his absence to approach them deviously. Don’t use manipulation or trickery.
  • My children – Paul considered himself as a father to the Galatians. They were not just strangers or even friends. He viewed them as his children. He loved them dearly. He felt responsible for them. He couldn’t bear to see them going down the wrong path. If you follow Paul’s footsteps as a discipler you will have the same experience.

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.”

  • When Paul says in Galatians 4:23 that Ishmael was born "according to the flesh," it means that he was the product of self-reliance. Abraham ceased to rely on God's power to fulfill his word and instead relied on his own power and ingenuity to get a son.
  • Isaac was not born on the basis of self-reliance like Ishmael; because his birth was the result of God's supernatural intervention in fulfillment of his own promise. Abraham had learned his lesson: the only acceptable response to God's merciful promise is trust in that promise.
  • According to verse 24, Hagar and Sarah represent two covenants. Hagar's giving birth to Ishmael is done "according to the flesh" (v. 23). That is just what happened when the law was given at Mt. Sinai. Instead of humbling themselves and trusting God for help to obey his commands, Israel says confidently, "All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do" (Exodus 24:3; Deuteronomy 5:27). All that Israel produced when they tried to keep the law on their own was a legalism which would inherit nothing.
  • Then in verse 26 Paul turns his attention to the other half of the allegory—Sarah and her child, Isaac. He contrasts the present Jerusalem in verse 25 with the "Jerusalem above" in verse 26. What he means by the Jerusalem above can be seen in Colossians 3:1–3*. The Jerusalem above represents the dwelling place of God.

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).

  • "Born according to the Spirit" is interchangeable with "born through promise." This confirms that "children of promise" in verse 28 refers to people whose inner life is the work of God's Spirit in fulfillment of his promise. The difference between Ishmael-types and Isaac-types is a supernatural work of the Spirit of God.

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.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 12:50 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, August 01 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION:

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.

CONCLUSION

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.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:33 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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.

  1. The changeless promise (verse 15-18)

"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.

  1. The purpose of the law (verse 19-22)

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.

CONCLUSION

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.”

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 10:14 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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:

  1. Clear to the Galatians and
  2. Something that isn't found in Judaism.

The Galatians experienced the Holy Spirit in two ways:

  • They "received" the Spirit (verse 2) or were "given" the Spirit (verse 4) -- the two sides of the transmission of a gift: receiving and giving.
  • They experienced miracles among them that were attributed to the Holy Spirit (verse 4).

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:

  • Abraham was justified by faith, according to Genesis 15:6: "Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness." Abraham believed what God had told him and this faith was imputed or counted to him as righteousness.
  • The Gentiles are Abraham's spiritual children, since God promised Abraham that, "All nations will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18).
  • Originally salvation came by faith, without law being in the picture at all. Furthermore, Gentiles especially should expect their salvation to come through faith, since they are Abraham's spiritual children.

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:

Deuteronomy 27:26

"'Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out. ‘Then all the people shall say, 'Amen!'"

Habakkuk 2:4

"See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright -- but the righteous will live by his faith."

Leviticus 18:5

"Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD."

Deuteronomy 21:22-23

"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.

CONCLUSION

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

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 04:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, July 04 2019

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Introduction

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.” 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;

  • The importance of God’s grace would have been lowered.
  • We would be more prideful since we rely on ourselves and our own good works.
  • The weight and burden of the law would once again be on our shoulders.
  • The progress of the gospel would have been greatly slowed since every person must become a Jew in order to become a Christian. Many may have rejected the gospel because they were unwilling to be circumcised.

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

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 12:57 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, July 03 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

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:

  • It was God’s good pleasure to call Saul. It wasn’t Saul’s idea—not at all.
  • It was by God’s grace that he revealed his Son to Saul. No one who knew Saul’s history could believe anything else to be true.
  • God called Paul to preach Christ among the Gentiles

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.

CONCLUSION

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/

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 04:44 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, June 19 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

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:

  1. His Ministry: The authority of an apostle (Verses 1-2)

“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.

  1. His Message: The authority of the gospel (Verses 3-4)

“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”

  1. His Motive: The glory of God (Verse 5)

“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:

  1. The Unfaithfulness of the Galatians (Verse 6)

“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.

  1. The Activity of the False Teachers (Verse 7)

“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)

  1. Paul’s Anathema/Curse (Verses 8-9)

“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.

  1. Paul’s Motive (Verse 10)

“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.”

  1. The glory of Christ was at stake: To add to what Jesus has done is to belittle Him. To suggest His work for us was incomplete. That may win people’s approval but it won’t earn God’s.
  1. People’s souls were at stake: To pervert the gospel is to corrupt the only way to God. And that is frightening. The issue of false teachers is serious, not just because God warns of eternal condemnation, but because no one is immune, not even an apostle, let alone a house group leader, Sunday School teacher, a vicar, archdeacon, bishop, or even an archbishop.

CONCLUSION

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

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:09 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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.

Introduction

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:

  • Paul kept the Sabbath – Acts16:13; Acts 18:4
  • He kept the appointed festivals – Acts 20:16
  • He paid for four men to be purified at the end of their Nazarite vows. These included a sin offering.
  • He also purified himself in the Temple. Acts 21:23-26

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.”

CONCLUSION

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.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 12:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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