The Church Which Has Its Foundation In Hell

Today’s selected reading begins in the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Christians and saints which were in Galatia. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first ten verses of the first chapter of this epistle. The epistle to the Galatians is perhaps one of the most powerful epistles which the apostle Paul wrote, for this particular epistle was written unto a series of churches which were in the province of Asia. If you study the geography of the location of many of the churches which the apostle Paul established in Asia you will find that with the exception of the church in Rome, the churches we’re found in the modern day regions of Greece and Turkey. Concerning and pertaining to the epistle which was written unto the Galatians you will find that when the apostle Paul begins and opens up this epistle he does so by speaking directly to the churches which were in the region of Asia Minor. The epistle to the Galatians is the only epistle the apostle Paul wrote which was written—not to an individual body of believers or fellowship of saints, but rather to a network of churches within a specific region. If you look at where Galatia was located you will quickly discover that it was a specific region located within the region of modern day Turkey. When seeking to understand the weight and magnitude of the epistle which was written unto the Galatians it is necessary to recognize and understand that it was an epistle that wasn’t written to any specific church or congregation of believers, and therefore speaks directly to the reality of not one, but multiple churches which needed to be addressed by the apostle Paul. Thus far within the New Testament we have seen a single epistle written unto the saints and church which was at Rome, and we have seen two distinct letters which were written unto the saints which were located in Corinth. This particular epistle, however, was written unto multiple churches which were found in a centralized region of what is modern day Turkey.

What marks the epistle which was written unto the Galatians as so incredibly unique, is that when you read the New Testament book of Acts, there seems to be no indication the apostle Paul sownt a considerable amount of time there. Nowhere in the book of Acts will you find a description of the apostle Paul spending time in Galatia as he did in Corinth, or Thessaloniki, or Philippi, or some of the other locations the apostle Paul spent time in. Of the two references to Galatia in the New Testament book of the Acts is the apostles we find the apostle Paul merely passing through Galatia on his way to other locations and other churches. In fact, one of the more specific references to the apostle Paul’s time in Galatia is immediately after he left Ephesus. Luke records in the book of Acts how the apostle Paul came unto the region of Galatia and spent time there strengthening and establishing the saints of God which were present there. There is absolutely no indication the apostle Paul spent time I the region of Galatia laboring among the people there in order that a body of believers might be established in the midst thereof. The epistle to the Galatians is incredibly unique for it seems to be a letter that was written unto a series and network of churches after hearing reports concerning the condition and nature of the church. Undoubtedly the apostle Paul was made aware of what was taking place among the churches in Galatia, and as a result of hearing such a report, the apostle Paul felt compelled to write a letter unto this network and body of churches. How incredibly interesting it is that the epistle written unto the Galatians was not written unto a specific body of believers, but was written unto a series of churches which each had their own individual set of members. Scripture is unclear whether or not these churches were connected with each other, but we are made aware that there were a series of churches which were present within this region of Galatia.

Before getting into the actual epistle unto the churches which were at Galatia it is absolutely necessary to get an understanding of the activity that is presented in Scripture concerning this particular region within Asia Minor during the days of the apostle Paul The very first reference to the region of Galatia is found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts where Luke records the activity and movement of the apostle Paul on one of his missionary journeys. Beginning with the first verse of the sixteenth chapter we find the following words written concerning the journeys of the apostle Paul at this particular time: “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night” (Acts 16:1-8). While Luke doesn’t specifically record the apostle Paul spending time in the region of Galatia as he did individual cities such as Corinth, and Ephesus, and Philippi, and the like, we do discover certain activity of the apostle Paul in this particular region within Asia. In fact, Luke records for us that after the apostle Paul had Timothy circumcised, they went through the cities and delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. In verse five of this same chapter we find additional commentary concerning the apostle Paul’s time within this region, for we find Luke recording how the churches in this region were stablished in the faith, and increased in number daily.

In the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts Luke records the activity of Paul and Timothy, and how during this particular time they delivered the decrees which were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. It’s worth noting how Luke records that as a direct result of the activity and presence of the apostle Paul and Timothy within the region of Galatia and the surrounding area, the churches were established in the faith, and increased in number daily. There is not a doubt in my mind that during this time the apostle Paul—together with Timothy who had now begun to accompany him on his missionary journeys—helped strengthen and establish the various churches which were located within the region of Galatia. There is no indication as to how many churches were found in the region of Galatia, but we are made aware that Galatia wasn’t merely a city located within Asia, but was an actual region. Undoubtedly, Paul along with Timothy his new companion journeyed throughout Galatia and Phrygia, and as they went throughout the region, they sought to strengthen and establish the individual churches which were there. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul himself wrote in the fourth chapter of the epistle he wrote unto the Ephesian congregation. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesians you will find very specific language written by the apostle concerning activity I believe took place in the region of Galatia among the churches which were found to be present throughout that region. Consider if you will the words the apostle Paul wrote in this particular epistle beginning with the first verse:

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:1-16).

Undoubtedly, when the apostle Paul traveled through the region of Galatia with Timothy he endeavored that the churches which were present in that region would come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God. As the apostle Paul traveled throughout the region of Galatia, he sought to establish the network of churches which were present within this particular geographical location in order that they might become a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. The apostle Paul clearly sought after and desired that these churches no longer be children which were tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness. The apostle Paul desired for these churches that they spoke the truth in love, in order that they might grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. In fact, when you come to the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find additional language concerning the time which the apostle Paul spent in the region of Galatia, for he didn’t merely pass through this region once, but he passed through it a second time. If you begin reading from the eighteenth verse of the eighteenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find that after Paul tarried in Corinth a good while, he took his leave from the brethren, and sailed into Syria with Priscilla and Aquila. Upon coming into Ephesus the apostle Paul left Aquila and Priscilla there, but he himself entered into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When the Jews desired the apostle Paul remain longer in Ephesus the apostle Paul consented not, but bade theme farewell in order that he might keep a feast which was in Jerusalem. Immediately the apostle Paul sailed from Ephesus and landed in Caesarea, where he went up and saluted the church before traveling down to Antioch. Luke records that after the apostle Paul had spent some time in Antioch, he departed and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening the disciples. This is yet a second reference found within the New Testament book of Acts that describes the activity of the apostle Paul in the region of Galatia, and how on this particular occasion the apostle Paul went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia strengthening all the disciples. Both the reference in the sixteenth chapter, as well as the reference in the eighteenth chapter describe how the apostle Paul traveled throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, and during his time in this region, he not only sought to deliver the decrees which were ordained by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, but also strengthen the disciples which were there in order that the churches might be established in the faith and increase in number.

Having now examined the activity of the apostle Paul in the region of Galatia and understanding that Galatia wasn’t merely a city, but an actual region within Asia we come to the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Galatia. When the epistle unto the Galatians opens, it opens with the following words: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead” (Galatians 1:1). It is actually incredibly interesting how the apostle opens up this particular epistle, for just as he had done in previous epistles, he spoke of himself as being an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. When you open up the epistle written unto the Galatians, however, you will find something uniquely different about the opening of this epistle. The apostle Paul did speak of himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, however, he did something different this time—namely, making the declaration that he was an apostle not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ. It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to this, for with, through and by these words the apostle Paul acknowledges that his apostleship was not one that was given to him by men, but rather was one that was given him by the Lord Jesus Christ. That which the apostle Paul writes in the first verse of this epistle is actually incredibly unique—especially when you consider it in light of that which the apostle John records in the opening chapter of his gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. If you begin reading with and from the eleventh verse of the first chapter of John’s gospel account of Jesus’ life, you will find the following words written by the apostle: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13). Please don’t quickly move past the words which the apostle John wrote in the opening chapter of his gospel, for these words are intrinsically connected to the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning his own apostleship. In the opening verse of the epistles which was written unto the Galatians we find the apostle declaring of his apostleship that it was not of men, neither was it by man, but was by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead. When John wrote his gospel account of the life of Jesus, he spoke of those whom Jesus gave power to become the sons of God—sons which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

There is something absolutely and incredibly unique about the words and language we find in the opening verse of the epistle written unto the Galatians, as well as the words which the apostle John wrote in the opening chapter of his gospel account of Jesus’ life—especially when you consider the words which the apostle Paul would write later on in the same epistle which was written unto the Galatian churches. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the same epistle unto the Galatian churches beginning with the twenty-first verse of the fourth chapter: “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answwereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? 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” (Galatians 4:21-31). These words which we find in the fourth chapter of this epistle written unto the churches within the region of Galatia are absolutely necessary, for the apostle Paul sets forth two distinct realities—that which was born of the flesh, and that which was born of the Spirit and of promise. The apostle Paul appealed to the account of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, for though Abraham be one man, yet had he two sons—each born by a different woman. Isaac, who was the child of promise—the child of faith and the child of inheritance—was born of Sarah according to the promise which the Lord had spoken unto Abraham on more than one occasion. Ishmael, however, was a son born unto Abraham by Hagar—a son not born of the promise, nor of the Spirit, nor of inheritance, but a son born strictly of the flesh. Oh, we must recognize and understand that there is a vast difference between that which is born of the Spirit, and that which is born of the flesh. The apostle Paul clearly sets forth the tremendous reality and concept that there is that which is born after the flesh, and there is that which is born after and according to the Spirit.

WHAT ARE YOU GIVING BIRTH TO? In the opening verse of the first chapter of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Galatians we find the apostle Paul writing of his apostleship that it was not of men, nor was it by man, but was of Jesus the Christ, and God the Father who raised Him from the dead. The apostle John wrote of those who were given power to become the sons of God, and how those who were given power to become sons of God were sons who weren’t born according to the flesh, who weren’t born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Moreover, the apostle Paul goes on to write concerning that which is born of the flesh as directly set against and compared to that which is born of the Spirit and born of the promise. I am convinced that each of these realities are intrinsically connected and linked to each other, for there is a vast difference between that which is born of the Spirit and that which is born of the flesh. In fact, I would dare say that there is a ministry, and there are ministries which have been born out of the flesh, and which have been birthed according to the will and desire of man versus that which is born of the Spirit. There is a clear and fundamental difference between that which is born of the flesh and that which is born of the Spirit, and just as the same is true concerning our being born as sons and daughters of the Father in heaven, so it is also true of the ministry we find ourselves engaging in. As surely as I am sitting here I can’t help but ask myself and wonder how many men and women have attempted to give birth to ministries which have been born after the flesh, and have not been birthed by and according to the Spirit. I would dare say there are a number of ministries, a number of churches, a number of fellowships and the like which have been birthed—not by the Spirit and the promise, but that which is born according to and after the flesh. The apostolic ministry entrusted unto the apostle Paul was one that was not given him by men, but was one that was given Him directly by and directly from the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father who was in heaven. The apostolic ministry the apostle Paul engaged in was not one he deliberately and intentionally took upon himself, but was one which was appointed unto him by the Lord Jesus Christ the day He appeared to him on the road to Damascus and threw him from his horse.

I am utterly and completely convinced that it was absolutely critical, necessary and vital the apostle Paul begin and open up this epistle unto the churches of Galatia the way he did, for it set the stage and set the tone for the entire epistle. Straight from and directly from the outset of the epistle we find the apostle Paul beginning to speak to the reality and concept of that which comes from men and that which comes from God. The apostle Paul used himself first and foremost to describe that which has its origin in man as directly set against that which has its origin in Jesus who is the Christ, and God His Father. I do not find it coincidental the apostle Paul opens the epistle with a description of the apostolic ministry entrusted unto him as being by Jesus Christ, and God the Father as opposed to being of men, and by man, for the apostle Paul recognized the churches in this area and region of Asia needed to understand the fundamental difference between that which is born of the flesh and that which is born of the Spirit. If you read this epistle in its entirety, you will find that one of the greatest needs the churches of Galatia had need of was recognizing and understanding that which is born of the flesh versus that which is born of the Spirit. The churches within the region of Asia needed to recognize and understand the vast difference between that which is born of God versus and directly set against that which is born of man. Moreover, the churches in the region of Galatia needed to understand that which is ordained by God and that which is ordained by man. The apostle Paul was very specific and very forthcoming in speaking of the apostolic ministry which was entrusted unto him, for he fully recognized that this ministry came not from man, but came directly from the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, even when you read the New Testament book of the Acts of the apostles you will find the apostle Paul emphatically describing his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and how it was Jesus Christ Himself who gave Him the ministry of the apostleship. If you begin reading with and from the tenth verse of the ninth chapter of the New Testament book fo Acts you will find the following words which describe Paul’s encounter with Ananias in the city of Damascus:

“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard my many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority form the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:10-16).

It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the calling of the apostle Paul, and how the Lord not only called him on the road to Damascus, and then again within the city of Damascus when Ananias came and laid his hands on him, but also when the Holy Ghost separated both he and Barnabas unto himself for the ministry which they had been called to. When writing unto the churches of Galatia the apostle Paul readily acknowledged and declared that the apostolic ministry that was entrusted unto him was not one that was given by men, nor was it one that was given of men, but it was one that was given directly by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and by God His Father. The entire epistle which was written unto the churches which were at Galatia would be centered upon the fundamental difference between that which is born of the Spirit and that which is born of the flesh. What’s more, is that this particular epistle would center upon the liberty which we as the saints of God and disciples of Jesus the Christ find in the person of Jesus Christ. In other words, it isn’t merely enough that we understand that difference between that which is born of the flesh and that which is born of the Spirit, but we must also recognize and understand that which gives way to freedom and liberty, and that which gives way to bondage and slavery. I am utterly and completely convinced that we must completely and totally understand and recognize that which gives birth to bondage and slavery within our lives, and that which gives birth to freedom and liberty. The apostle Paul sought to clearly define and reveal that within our lives which can only and will only give birth to slavery and bondage versus that which gives birth to liberty and freedom. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must ask ourselves when reading the epistle which was written unto the Galatian churches is what we are allowing into our lives that brings us into a place of bondage and slavery. As much as we must recognize that within our lives is born of the flesh versus that which is born of the Spirit, we must also recognize that within our lives which gives birth to bondage and slavery. The apostle Paul would use the account of Hagar and Ishmael the son who was born unto her to clearly explain that which produces bondage within the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ—particularly, and especially the law which is represented by mount Sinai in the wilderness of Sinai.

When you come to the sixth verse of the first chapter of this particular epistle you will notice that immediately after his customary greeting at the opening of his epistles, the apostle Paul—like a skilled surgeon—begins to go to work on the churches within the region of Galatia. When writing unto the church of Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote concerning another Jesus, another gospel, and another spirit, and in this particular epistle we find the apostle Paul speaking of the churches in Galatia how they had removed themselves from Him which called them into the grace of Christ unto another gospel. In verses six through ten of this first chapter we find the apostle Paul writing concerning these churches how they turned themselves away from Him who called them into the grace of Christ unto another gospel, and how there were some among them who troubled them and would pervert the gospel of Christ. Within the first chapter of the epistle written unto the Galatian churches we find that there were those who had infiltrated the churches located within this particular region, and had begun propagating and proliferating another gospel which was completely different from the gospel which they heard the apostle Paul preach while he was present among them. While Luke doesn’t record a great deal of activity of the apostle Paul among the churches which were in the country of Galatia we can be absolutely certain and sure of the fact that while present among these churches he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ—a gospel which he would later go on to reveal did not originate with men, but with God. Though we will not get into it right now, if you continue reading in the first chapter of the epistle which was written unto the churches within the region of Asia you will find that the gospel which the apostle Paul preached was a gospel that was not received of men, but was a gospel which was received from Jesus Christ Himself. It is worth noting that within this first chapter of this epistle—not only does the apostle Paul emphatically declare that his apostleship was not of men, nor was it by men, but so also was the gospel he preached not after men. A MINISTRY OF GOD AND NOT MEN! A GOSPEL RECEIVED FROM CHRIST AND NOT MEN! Within the first chapter of this particular epistle we not only find the apostle Paul speaking of the ministry which was entrusted unto him, but also the gospel which he received—both of which came not from men, but from Jesus Christ Himself.

As I sit here considering the words of the apostle Paul within the first ten verses of this chapter I am finding myself wondering what voices we are allowing to speak into our lives. The apostle Paul recognize and understood that the churches within the region of Galatia had removed themselves from Him that called them into the grace of Christ unto another gospel. The apostle Paul recognized and understood that there were some among them who troubled them—and not only troubled them, but would also pervert the gospel of Christ. The apostle Paul would go on to write that though they themselves, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto them that which is different from that which was preached unto them by him, they are to be accursed. The apostle Paul would go on to write and declare that if any man preached another gospel unto them which was different from that which they received, they are to be accursed. The more I read this epistle which was written unto the churches which were at Galatia, the more I can’t help but wonder within the depths of my spirit how many churches among us in this present age and generation have removed themselves from Him who called them into the grace of Christ unto another gospel. I am utterly and completely convinced that there are churches present among us in this hour which have turned themselves aside and turned themselves away from the gospel of Jesus Christ, and from the grace and mercy which are found in Jesus Christ and Him alone. There is not a doubt in my mind that there are churches present among us—particularly and especially in this Western Hemisphere of the globe—which have turned themselves away and apart from the true gospel which is found in Jesus Christ, and have done so because they have allowed others to creep in unaware among them and lead them astray. As certainly and as surely as we must be cautious about that which causes and that which produces bondage within our lives, so also must we also be cautious and mindful of that which perverts the gospel of Jesus Christ within our lives and causes us to remove ourselves from the true gospel. I am firmly and powerfully convinced that we must with all diligence guard with everything we have within us the voices and gospels we allow to speak into our lives. I have previously written how just because an individual is top on the charts of the iTunes podcasts, that doesn’t mean that individual is preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ in this generation. If we allow rankings and places within and upon the charts to dictate and determine which voices we allow to speak into our hearts and lives, we are sorely and severely mistaken. Oh that we would read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this particular passage and truly recognize and understand those voices which we are allowing to speak into our hearts and loves. Oh that we would give ourselves to discernment in order that we would not only decipher the difference between that which is born of the Spirit and that which is born of the flesh, but also the the difference between that which produces liberty in our lives compared to that which produces bondage in our lives. Above all of this, we must recognize and understand what another gospel truly does sound like in our midst, and that we would quickly remove ourselves from underneath any gospel that is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ which is present within the sacred Scripture.

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