Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia. More specifically today’s passage begins with the eighth verse of the fourth chapter and continues through to the fifteenth verse of the fifth chapter. “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, y e did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Galatians 4:8-11).
“Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all. Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? For I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:12-20).
“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 free woman. 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 answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem whjich is avove is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, that thou traveilest 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. Neverhtless 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).
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, w hosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little eleaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (Galatians 5:1-12).
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty: only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Galatians 5:13-15).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul continuing his incredible language unto the churches in Galatia concerning their removal and turning away from the gospel. Upon reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it is clear that not only had the churches of Galatia and Achaia turned themselves from the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ but the apostle Paul sought to bring them face to face with this departure that he might bring them back and restore them unto the gospel. RESTORED UNTO THE GOSPEL! RESTORED UNTO JESUS! RESTORED UNTO THE SPIRIT! This actually brings me to an incredibly interesting concept—the concept of whether or not it is possible to turn away from the one true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and need to be restored once more unto the one true gospel. Is it possible to turn away from the one true Spirit unto a false spirit that is entirely and altogether different from the one which we have received. In all reality I am convinced for us to truly understand this we must needs recognize and consider the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints as well as the second chapter which is found in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints. What’s more is I feel it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written unto the saints which were in Corinth. Having said this I invite you to consider the following three passages as the foundation of that which we have been called to—namely, one Spirit, one Lord Jesus, one God the Father, one baptism, and even one body. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture:
“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 longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring 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 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 in 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 selight 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).
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any conform of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me” (Philippians 2:1-18).
“Now concerning spiritual gifts brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But not hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one. Member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
It is quite clear from each of these passages that from the time of the events of Pentecost there has been one body of the Lord Jesus Christ which is and has been present upon the earth. From the time of Pentecost the Holy Spirit has created a spiritual body for the Lord Jesus Christ upon the earth and just as an earthly and natural body was prepared for the Lord Jesus when He came to the earth in the form of human flesh so also was a spiritual body prepared for the Lord Jesus on the day of Pentecost. Oh we dare not misunderstand and lose sight of this for when we think and speak about this one spiritual body prepared for the Lord Jesus we must recognize that this one spiritual body is united together under one head which is both Lord and Christ. When we speak about the body of the Lord Jesus Christ we must needs recognize and understand that it is not many bodies as though Christ be divided within Himself but one body made up of many members. Despite the fact that there might be many congregations and many individual churches scattered throughout the world there is truly only one spiritual body united together in and under the person of the head of the Church. With this being said we must needs recognize that together with one Lord who is Jesus the Christ there is also only one God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath raised Him from death to life on the third day. Moreover there is only one Spirit who works in all both to will and to do good and who is the manifest presence of the eternal and only begotten of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize this incredibly important truth when considering how we have all been united together under one Head which is the Lord Jesus Christ according to one Spirit by through the will of the Father.
I have to admit there is something we must needs understand and consider when seeking to understand the words which are found in the New Testament epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia. The more we read the words which are found in the New Testament epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia the more we must needs understand the tremendous truth that although there were multiple churches in the region of Galatia they were all united under one head which was the Lord Jesus Christ. These churches which were in Galatia were united together under one head which is the Lord Jesus Christ and were knit together by and according to the Spirit which worked in them to produce a body of believers who walked with and followed the Lord Jesus. What we find in this epistle, however, is churches which were turned away from and removed from the one true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ unto another gospel which the apostle Paul described was not a gospel at all but a false gospel. If there is one thing we must needs recognize it’s that there is only one true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and anything and everything else that is not in alignment to and with it is a false gospel. Just as Jesus declared that He was and still is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no man comes unto the Father but by Him so also is there only one gospel present in the world today. Although there might be many who would like to think there can somehow be more than one gospel present in the earth such a thought is nothing more than a farce, fallacy and deception.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this New Testament epistle and I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the churches which were in Galatia and how these churches had been infiltrated by false brethren and perhaps even false apostles and teachers which spread false doctrine and false doctrine. As early as the church which was in Antioch we find false doctrines and false gospels which were being preached unto and among the saints of God. It was in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find certain of those from Judaea coming unto Judaea and troubling them that they ought to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses in order to be saved. Luke describes how there was such a great contention and disputation which took place among them that Paul and Barnabas were sent unto the city of Jerusalem unto the apostles and brethren to obtain an answer concerning this matter. Oh there is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to these words for they serve as the foundation for what is present in the New Testament epistle written unto the saints which were in Galatia. Those saints which were in Galatia had been infiltrated by false brethren who had spied out their liberty that they might sow tares among the wheat. With this being said I can’t help but think about the parable Jesus told concerning the enemy and adversary who sowed tares among the wheat in the secrecy of night. Much like the enemy sowed tares among the wheat that it might choke the life out of the wheat so also did these false brethren sow tares of legalism, religion and false doctrine among the wheat of the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of this New Testament epistle:
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servant of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? For whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matthew 13:24-30).
“Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: and that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: but contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter: (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was might in me toward the Gentiles) and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do” (Galatians 2:1-10).
It is absolutely necessary we understand the words which are found in these two passages for in the parable which Jesus spoke we find it mentioned of an enemy and adversary who came stealthily in the night and sowed tares among the wheat. It wasn’t initially known what the enemy and adversary had done for he came in stealthily by secret in the night and sowed tares among the wheat. Within the parable the Lord Jesus spoke we find it mentioned of an enemy and adversary who had deliberately and intentionally sowed tares among the wheat which would not be manifested among the wheat until they both began growing up together. This is something which must needs be recognized and considered—particularly and especially when considering that which is written in the New Testament epistle written unto the Galatians—for in this epistle the apostle Paul speaks of false brethren unawares who were brought in who came in privily to spy out the liberty which they had in Christ Jesus. What’s more is the apostle Paul would also speak of these false brethren who crept in unawares—not only to spy out their liberty but also to bring them unto bondage. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this particular truth for the sole purpose for these false brethren was to deliberately and intentionally bring the people of God into bondage. It wasn’t enough simply to spy out their liberty but it was necessary in their hearts and minds to bring others into bondage—bondage which they had been delivered from according to the power of the eternal Spirit and only begotten Son who worked in them. When writing unto the Galatian churches the apostle Paul spoke unto them concerning these false brethren who were indeed nothing more than tares which were sown among the wheat that they might not only choke the life out of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ but might also bring them into bondage.
There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read the epistle written unto the Galatian saints we must understand and recognize that the enemy and adversary sets his own false brethren among the true saints of the Lord Jesus Christ that he might bring them into bondage and subject them to that which the Lord Jesus Christ through His cross and sacrifice had delivered them from. The enemy and adversary deliberately and intentionally sets his false brethren in the midst of the true saints of God that like as the tares would choke the life out of the wheat so these tares would not only choke the life out of the gospel but might also choke the life out of the saints of God themselves. We would be incredibly naive to think and consider for a moment that the enemy and adversary does not have his false brethren whom he hath sent in unawares among us within our churches and congregations that he might bring us into bondage. OH dear brother and sister would it shock and surprise you to think and consider for a moment how much the enemy and adversary despises the freedom you have been given in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ? Would it surprise you to think and consider how much the enemy and adversary can and will seek to do anything and everything to not only bring you into bondage but also to destroy you? With this being said we must needs recognize that if the enemy cannot succeed in bringing you into bondage he can and will seek to do anything and everything he can to destroy you. We must needs recognize and understand that the thief comes to steal, to kill and to destroy but the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father came that we might have life and life more abundantly.
With all of this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote—not only in the tenth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints but also the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written unto the same dear saints. It is in the tenth chapter of the first epistle the apostle Paul speaks of one Lord, one baptism and one God the Father and the example of the children of Israel while it is in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle the apostle Paul speaks of the deception and delusion of the enemy and adversary who not only transforms himself into an angel of light but also raises up his servants who transform themselves as vessels of righteousness that they might appear as holy unto the true saints of the living God. Oh there is something we must needs recognize when thinking about and considering the New Testament congregation of the Galatians for this was a church which had heard the one true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ preached unto them by the apostle Paul and others and yet not only had false brethren crept in unawares among them to spy out their liberty that they might bring them into bondage but the churches of Galatia had turned aside unto a different gospel, a different doctrine, and even a different Jesus and a different spirit which was not the one true Spirit of the living God. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth:
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up early to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say” (1 Corinthians 10:1-15).
“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtitlty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a white behind the very chiefest apostles. But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things. Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:1-15).
In the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints we find the apostle Paul speaking of false apostles who are deceitful workers and transform themselves into the apostles of Christ. The apostle Paul does not marvel in this for even Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. The apostle Paul saw it as no small thing if the ministers of Satan are also transformed as the ministers of righteousness whose end will be according to their works. What we find when reading the epistle written unto the Galatian congregation is false brethren who crept in among them unawares to spy out their liberty—and not only spy out their liberty but also bring them into bondage. How did these false brethren bring them into bondage? Did they come preaching a false Jesus whom the apostle Paul and others had not preached unto and among them? Did they come preaching another spirit whom the apostle Paul and others had not preached among them? The answer to these questions is a resounding “No,” for the false brethren who crept in among them were very much similar to the false brethren who entered into Antioch and began teaching the saints of God in that place that they must be circumcised to be saved. The apostle Paul had emphatically and unreservedly preached that in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything but faith alone and yet these agents of deceit and destruction sought to bring them into bondage around works of the Law and circumcision. With this in mind I invite you to now consider the following words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:
“And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:1-5).
“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago, God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which konweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which. Neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them” (Acts 15:6-12).
“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day” (Acts 15:13-21).
“Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: and they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well” (Acts 15:22-29).
THAT CERTAIN WENT OUT FROM US HAVE TROUBLED YOU WITH WORDS, SUBVERTING YOUR SOULS! BUT THERE BE SOME THAT TROUBLE YOU, AND WOULD PERVERT THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST! Oh it is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and understand the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for within this book we find the elders and brethren of the church writing unto the saints which were in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia concerning those who entered in among them and troubled them. What we find in this passage of Scripture is this trouble coming from those who entered in among them and began teaching that circumcision and keeping the law of Moses was necessary to experience salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul had spent a considerable amount of time preaching unto the Jews and Gentiles alike that neither circumcision nor works of the Law matter much in terms of salvation in the sight of the living God. The apostle Paul when writing unto the saints which were at Rome emphatically declared that anyone who confesses with their mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and who believes with their heart that the living God raised Him up from death to life will be saved. The apostle Paul emphatically declared that we are justified by faith alone—and not merely faith but faith according to the free gift of God which is found in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul declared unto both Jews and Gentiles that Jesus Christ came to deliver us from the curse and bondage of the Law that we might indeed walk in newness of life and freedom no longer bound by the Law nor by circumcision.
When you begin reading with and from the third chapter of this New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul you will find him speaking unto the Galatian saints as foolish who had been bewitched that they should no longer obey the truth before whose eyes Jesus Christ was presented unto them. The apostle Paul would go on to ask them if they had received the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith. This would be followed by the apostle Paul asking them if they had become so foolish that they had begun in the Spirit and yet were now [attempting] to be made perfect in the flesh? It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the tremendous words and language that is found here in this passage of Scripture for when you come to the fourth chapter of this same epistle you will find the apostle asking how they had turned again to the weak and beggarly elements that they would desire again to be in bondage. The Galatians observed days, and months, and times, and years and the apostle Paul spoke unto them how he was afraid of them lest he bestowed upon them labour in vain. What I so love about the words which are found in the fourth chapter of this epistle is how the apostle Paul asked them if he had become their enemy because he told them the truth. Pause for a moment and consider the full weight and significance of those words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Galatian churches for he point blank and without any reservation or hesitation asked them if he had become their enemy because he told them the truth in Jesus according to the Spirit.
What I so love about the words which are found within this passage of Scripture is the fact that in the third and fourth chapters the apostle Paul appeals to Abraham—not only to describe how circumcision avails nothing in Christ but also how works of the Law avail nothing in Christ. I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we are to truly understand the words which are found in this epistle written unto the Galatian churches we must needs understand the example of Abraham for not only did he believe God, and not only was his belief credited unto him as righteousness but so also was his belief in the living God credited to him as righteousness before circumcision and even before the Law of Moses was even given. There is something we must needs understand when thinking about this epistle written unto the Galatian saints for it bears and carries with it similar language to that which is found in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. Pause for a moment and consider how scandalous the gospel which the apostle Paul preached truly was—first unto the Jews who had not only been circumcised but had also devoted their entire lives to keeping the commandments of the Law of Moses. Stop and think about what it would be like for the Jews who had spent their entire lives adhering to the Law of Moses thinking and believing that in it they had their salvation only to now hear the apostle Paul declare unto them that they are not justified by works of the Law in Christ. The apostle Paul declared unto both the saints which were at Rome as well as the saints which were at Galatia how Abraham stands as the prime example of one who is justified in the sight of God—not by works of the Law lest any one should have any means of boasting in the sight of the living God.
If you want to truly understand the words which are found in the epistle written unto the saints which were among the churches in Galatia we must needs recognize that for the Jews who had spent their entire lives keeping the Law of Moses and who even bragged and boasted in their being circumcised according to the same Law and even according to the example of Abraham this would have completely shattered everything they believed. Consider everything the Jew who chose to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ would have had to let go of that they might fully trust and believe in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and even in the free gift of salvation. Think about all the Jews would have had to relinquish within their hearts, within their souls and within their minds to truly believe that they could be justified in the sight of the eternal and living God without the works of the Law and without circumcision. Oh this isn’t in any way diminishing or condemning them for being circumcised and even for keeping the Law of Moses up until that point in time, however, the apostle Paul would write unto the Galatians how the Law of Moses was indeed a school master which taught and tutored them until Christ was manifested unto and among them. In the third chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul described how the Law did in fact serve a purpose unto them for it was their guide and their tutor until the person of the Lord Jesus Christ was manifested unto and among them. The Law of Moses would indeed be their schoolmaster and their teacher until the time came when they would receive the free gift of God through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the latter portion of the third chapter of the epistle written unto the Galatian saints as well as the words which are found in the opening section of the same chapter:
“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:19-29).
It is quite clear from the words which we find in this passage of Scripture that the Law was added because of transgressions till the seed should come to whom the promise had been made. This law was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator and served as a schoolmaster to eventually and ultimately bring us unto Christ. What’s more is that when you read the epistles and even the gospels you will discover that the entire law can be summarized in two commandments—namely, loving the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We must needs recognize and understand this for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that not only was the Law added because of transgressions but it is and it was absolutely impossible to keep the whole Law. With this being said we must needs understand that Christ came as one born under the Law that He might deliver us from the curse and bondage of the Law. The law was given unto Moses that it might serve as a schoolmaster until the fulness of time would come when Christ who was born under the Law might fulfil the Law. It was the Lord Jesus Christ who came and declared that he did not come to destroy the law or the prophets but to fulfill them. What’s more is that Jesus also declared that not one jot or tittle of the law would be done away with until all was fulfilled and brought to pass. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this particular truth for it calls and invites us into the place where we think about the fact that the law was designed as a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith and faith alone. With this in mind consider now if you will the following words which are found in the third chapter of this epistle written unto the Galatian saints as well as the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome:
“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, forseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: For, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham his seed were the promises made, He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Galatians 3:6-18).
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned unto Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being circumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise that he should be their of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace: to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able to do perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:1-25).
If you read the words which are found in the latter portion of the fourth chapter you will find the apostle Paul asking the Galatian saints if they would desire to be under the Law. Paul asks the Galatian saints who desired to be under the Law if they heard the law for it was written in the Law that Abraham had two sons—one who was born of a bondmaid and the other born of a free woman. Of course we know that the son who was born of the bondwoman was Ishmael while the one who was born of the free woman was Isaac. The apostle Paul then goes on to describe how the one who was born after the bondwoman was born after the flesh while the one who was born of the free woman was born by promise. This is important to note for the apostle Paul declared how these two sons were an allegory and represented two covenants—the one from mount Sinai which leads to bondage and is in Arabia. The other one is an allegory and represents Jerusalem the city of David which is not only from above but is also free. That which the apostle Paul sought to do accomplish in this particular portion of Scripture was describe the fundamental difference between that which leads to bondage and that which leads to freedom. If there is one thing we must needs recognize is that directly associated with freedom is the promise and the Spirit and is what we have been called to. It was in the fifth chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul instructs the Galatian saints to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free and no longer be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Not only this but the apostle Paul goes on to describe how if they give themselves unto circumcision Christ profits them nothing for those who are circumcised are debtors to do the whole law.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the tremendous plea the apostle Paul made in this epistle for the apostle Paul sought to write unto these saints to deliver them from the bondage unto which they subjected themselves to. In essence this epistle must be understood in terms of the divine mission and assignment the living and eternal God sent Moses into the land of Egypt to confront Pharaoh king of Egypt over. In the Old Testament the living God appeared to Moses in the midst of a burning bush which burned and was not consumed. It would be there at the burning bush on the backside of the desert in the wilderness the LORD God would not only reveal Himself unto Moses but would also declare unto him how He was sending him unto the land of Egypt to bring deliverance unto the children of Israel. For more than four-hundred years the children of Israel were living as slaves who were cruelly oppressed and mistreated by the Egyptians and the taskmasters who were placed over them. Pharaoh king of Egypt was concerned that if war broke out against them the children of Israel would align themselves with their enemies and would get them up out of the land. What makes it quite interesting is the very thing Pharaoh was concerned with in terms of war would ultimately end up happening regardless. Pharaoh was worried the children of Israel would get themselves out of the land in response to war which might break out against them and yet he could not see that the children of Israel would ultimately be delivered by a power greater than any nation, enemy or adversary of the Egyptians.
I sit here today thinking about and considering this tremendous truth and find myself coming face to face with the fact that Pharaoh king of Egypt was worried the children of Israel would get themselves up out of the land of Egypt in alignment with their enemies. You have to appreciate the irony surrounding the actual deliverance of the children of Israel from their bondage and slavery in the land of Egypt for they would be delivered—not by war against Pharaoh and the land of Egypt but by divine plagues and judgments sent by the living God against them. The children of Israel would indeed be delivered from their slavery, from their bondage and from the oppressive taskmasters who ruled over them with cruelty and harshness and would come forth with a strong and high hand against their enemies and adversaries. What we must needs recognize concerning the epistle written unto the Galatian saints is that the apostle Paul sought to be a vessel of deliverance for these dear saints from the bondage and oppression from false brethren who entered in among them and troubled them. The apostle Paul sought to be an instrument of deliverance for the Galatian saints and from those who would seek to deceive them into thinking and believing they could be justified by works of the Law and even by circumcision. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand this for there is something truly powerful about the epistle written unto the Galatian saints and how there were those who would keep them in bondage to the Law and to circumcision. What we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this epistle is how we have indeed been called to liberty in Christ—and not just liberty in Christ but liberty from bondage to the Law, liberty from works of the Law and liberty from religious tyranny by those who would seek to keep from experiencing true liberty according to the Spirit in the Lord Jesus Christ.