Friday, December 17, 2010

The Abraham Factor #2

Galatians 3:15-16

The Word

"I speak after the manner of men" points to the fact that men enter into agreement, not with a heavenly language, for that would be unlawful for man to speak (2 Cor. 12:4), and a man has not the capacity to comprehend that which is spoken on a heavenly level. The word must be plain, concise, and complete so that each participant can with complete understanding enter into an agreement. Neither can anyone outside those parties break the agreement or change it in any way. This is an agreement between two men only, and even the law itself cannot interfere with its content or purpose.

The Covenant

Even though the covenant that God makes with man is in human speech, the fact that it is in man's words does not make the covenant void if it is confirmed. Heb 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

A covenant from God is confirmed by two immutable things: God himself and the oath that he has made. God cannot change; God cannot lie. Therefore, any covenant that God makes with man is one that cannot be interrupted or changed by man's doing. It is a firm foundation upon which we can believe and depend. No man can disannul it nor add to it. This is the reason that we cannot add to nor take from the Gospel message concerning Jesus Christ and his righteousness. This is the reason that we cannot add to nor take away from the very words of God, which are written in the Bible. The Gospel and the Word of God are a covenant made with man and confirmed by God and his oath.

The Promises

The promises that were "made" (REO, meaning literally "to flow out" or "to speak") were not here first made as in beginning the promises. The promises of God to his people were made in timeless eternity past and through God's Son, Jesus Christ. Here the promises are reiterated (re-affirmed) through Abraham and his seed (See Genesis 17:7).

These promises were not to many seeds, many Gospels for many people, especially speaking of the Jews and Gentiles, no Gospel for Gentiles with another for Jews, etc. There is only one seed (Christ), and the promises are centered in him alone. The promises were given only to Abraham's seed, and that spiritual seed, since all who believe are the children of Abraham (Gal. 3:7; Rom. 2:29; Gal. 3:29).

One Abraham, one covenant, one Gospel, one Christ, and one salvation. "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Abraham Factor #1

Galatians 3:6-14 -- See also Romans Chapter 4

The Faith of Abraham, 6-7

It is not by accident or a paraphrases that Abraham is known as "faithful Abraham" (Gal 3:9) or "the father of us all" (Rom. 4:16). It is because of his sincere faith in Christ that sets him apart from the world, and it is because of this same faith in us that separates us from this same evil world.

This faith in Abraham was accounted to him for righteousness. So then, if any person has faith, he has also the righteousness of Christ, Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Works are not, then, accounted for righteousness; for if righteousness comes by the law (works), then Christ is dead in vain (Gal. 2:21).

So, then, those who are of faith, or those who have faith in Christ, have surrendered to him or have submitted to him and are the children of Abraham. See also Romans 2:29; Gal. 3:29.

The Gospel of Abraham, 8-9

We know from this passage that the Gospel was preached to Abraham "afore," or in a former time than the writing of the book of Galatians, before the coming, dying, resurrecting, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Gospel is an old message. Christ preached it in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve, it is preached here to Abraham, and it has been preached through the years to innumerable individuals who have either believed it or rejected it, even to the Gentiles, who were not heirs of the oracles of God.

The Gospel was preached in these words: "In thee shall all nations be blessed." This was a foreseeing of the preaching of the Gospel to Gentiles as well as Jews. Christ foresaw through the scriptures (the scriptures by way of an anthropomorphism) not only saw that the Gospel would be preached among the Gentiles but also told it many times throughout the Old and New Testaments.

The Curse Of The Law, 10-12

Those who work the law endeavoring to gain eternal life are under the curse of the law, because everyone who does not continue in all the things that are in the law is cursed. Deuteronomy 27:26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

The just are to live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:). This makes it evident that a person is not justified by the law. Paul cannot say this too many times. He is obsessed with this idea: that salvation is by faith and not by the works of the law. The law merely gives commands to every individual on the earth. There is no faith in the law, simply commands from God; therefore, all who are under the law must do everything that is commanded in the law (Gal. 3:12; Rom. 10:5; Deut. 27:26).

The Redemption of Christ, 13-14

Christ, then, has redeemed us "from the curse of the law" (vs. 13). This word for "redeem" is the Greek word EK-AGORAZO, which means "out of the marketplace." We were all in the marketplace of sin under the tutelage of the law. We were hopelessly dead to Christ and his eternal life. But Christ Jesus purchased us "out of the marketplace." He took us out of the marketplace never to be on sale again. His purchase is effective and final.

This redemption was done by his becoming a curse for us, being hung on a tree (a tree of death), which was a curse for us. He did this that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so they might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith in Christ. This promise we will consider shortly.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Obeying The Truth

Galatians 3:1-5

There has been much said and written about obeying the truth. Some, who are bent on teaching that a person is saved by works, think that this obedience to the truth is a work such as those of the works of the law or of the works of the flesh, that man can physically work in order to attain salvation; but this section of scripture denies that, and so do many other passages in God's word.

The Galatians had been "bewitched," or fooled into thinking that they need not obey the truth but that they need rather to produce some good work on their own part in order to inherit eternal life. This was, no doubt, offered by some false teachers who had come in that through envy they might change the simple Gospel into that which is subversive to true faith and an alternative to the true grace of God. This Paul sets to the proper standard as he continues through this chapter. The truth of which Paul speaks is the doctrine of justification by faith, which Paul is vindicating throughout this book, placing it against the teaching of the shadows of the Gospel, the Law of carnal commandments.

A Clear Gospel

Paul first brings notice to them that Jesus Christ was crucified among them, being eye witnesses of that crucifixion, not in a literal sense, but through the eye of faith, since the true Gospel had been preached clearly to them so that they could see with their faith the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in their midst, a significant practice of Paul; that is, of making Christ vividly clear to the hearers of the Gospel, as he was determined to preach nothing else but the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ in presenting the doctrine of biblical justification.

Concise Questions

To those who have the Spirit of God to hear the truth, Paul introduces the first concise question: "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?" The law was preaching incessantly in old times, and Israel would not hear, though God outstretched his hands to them, Romans 10:21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. But here the Spirit of God, which indwelt the believers at Galatia, was received, not by the preaching of the law, but by the hearing of faith: Romans 10:17 So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. So, the question is asked and answered. The Spirit did not and does not come by the works of the law but by the hearing of faith.

The second question is "having begun in the Spirit, are ye made perfect by the flesh?" The answer is NO. If we begin in the Spirit, we must continue and culminate our lives in the Spirit. Phil. 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ: This is the drawing, convicting, justifying, and keeping work of the Holy Spirit, not of the works of the law.

The third question is "have ye suffered so many things in vain?" The Galatians have suffered reproach and persecution for Christ and the Gospel. Was it all in vain? They suffered for the true Gospel, not so that they may deny obedience to the truth. They, of course, have not suffered, and neither do we suffer, in vain for the truth of the Gospel.

The fourth question deals with whether the "minister" of the Spirit of God (meaning Christ) ministers the Spirit or performs miracles by the works of the law or the hearing of faith. The Spirit is given to everyone who believes, and it was given through the hearing of faith, not by the works of the law. Jesus Christ used the law to manifest to us our depraved condition and our need of a Savior, but he gives the Spirit by the hearing of faith. When Christ works miracles among them, it is not by the works of the law but through the hearing of faith.

Thus neither the works of the law nor the works of the flesh can bring justification or preserve the saints of God. It must be by faith, as is stated many times in scripture. Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

For those who believe that there is a third work besides the works of the law and the works of the flesh, i.e. the works in obedience to faith, it must be said that there is no mention of such in the Bible, nor is there any intimation of it or even an implication of it. There is no work that can redeem a soul no matter what it is called. Gal. 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

So, how do we obey the truth? We obey the truth by believing it, submitting to it, and living by it. There need be no action on our part physically to obey the truth: no baptism, no church membership, no good works. Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Living Above The World - Galatians

Galatians 2:19-21

Dead Through The Law

The law of Moses (the Torah--Genesis-Deuteronomy) portrayed Jesus Christ as the true Messiah and, therefore, it brought the message of condemnation to Paul, expounding to him his need of another way to justification besides the law itself, which cannot bring justification before God, though it can simply before men. Paul was able to see the perfection of Christ, his fulfilling the law with no guile and without sin, and he recognized the need not only of the law to bring him to Christ, but also the need of Jesus Christ to be his substitute for sin as the law determined and commanded.

The law,then, at one time was Paul's friend, Paul not realizing that his neglect to keep the law perfectly was his sure condemnation to Hell. Then the commandment came, sin revived, and Paul died (to himself and to the law for justification before God, See Romans 7:9). He is dead, then, through the law. Law did its job: to manifest the exceeding sinfulness of sin (Rom. 7:13).

That I Might Live Unto God

If the law could bring life (Gal. 3:21), then justification would be by the law; but since it can bring only death, there is a need for the Spirit of God to bring life into a person, being brought to life by the Spirit by grace: Eph 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Of course, we know that to be quickened means to be made alive. We know that the letter (of the law) kills, but the Spirit makes alive (2 Cor. 3:6).

That We Might Be Married To Another

Another reason that we are dead to the law is so that we can be married to another, which is Jesus Christ (See Romans 7:4). Through faith in Jesus Christ and the Gospel through grace we are married to Jesus Christ, and we are to be faithful to him as a man is to be with his own wife.

Crucified With Christ

We are crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20); we have died to the old flesh and are alive unto God (Rom. 6:11). Therefore, it is not we who live (since we are dead), but it is Jesus Christ who lives in us. We live in our flesh by the faith of the Son of God, because he loved us and gave himself for us (Gal. 2:20).

Do Not Frustrate God's Grace

If Paul were to live under the law from which Jesus has set him free, he would frustrate (despise, disannul, bring to nothing) the grace of God; because if works (the law) were added to grace, grace would no more be grace (Rom. 11:6). If grace were added to works, then works would no longer be works. This would bring the grace of God to nothing (make it worthless).

Anyone who believes that he can be justified before God with his works (the law) frustrates the grace of God and depends upon the law under which he is cursed, because no man has kept the law, and has not believed upon Jesus Christ and his Gospel (death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ) for the remission of sins: Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Living Above The World - Galatians

Galatians 2:17-18

We Seek To Be Justified By Christ

Of course, this is the only way to be justified. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (Isaiah 55:6). The word of God says that no man seeks after God (Rom. 3:11), but Prov. 8:17 says, I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. We know that the depraved soul does not seek after God, because he has no desire for God; but God's people seek after him and shall find him.

But here Paul is referring to salvation and says that we seek after Christ, turning from law to another Savior, Jesus Christ, the righteous one. We do this by the prompting of the Holy Spirit; and, of course, all by the grace of God by his mercy and through faith.

But when the Jews turned from the law to Christ, they were considered sinners; because they were turning from what the Jews considered the way to God: the law of Moses. If that is the case, then, we are found sinners, sinners against the law that God has laid down for all of us. If, then, we have turned from the law of God, which is supposed to be our savior, then not only are we sinners (through breaking the law), but this makes Christ the minister of sin. This makes Christ the minister of sin, because it is Jesus who has taught the apostles to turn away from the law and turn to Christ.

Paul says that, no, it does not make Christ a minister of sin. He uses an old cliche "God forbid," which is not a literal translation of the Greek words. The words literally mean "let it not be." Let it not be, or God forbid, because Christ is not actually a minister of sin but a minister of righteousness.

We Are Not To Build That Which We Destroy

If Paul, who has destroyed his old way of life, turning from his persecution of the church unto Jesus, the head of the church, and trusts him completely for salvation, then what need does he have in building again that former life from which Jesus saved him? Gal 4:9 tells us, 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?

You see, the law had us under its curse; and in order to be brought from under this curse, we had to turn from the law to Christ; for there is no redemption in the law, no life in the law, only death in the law. Rom. 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Thank God, we are free, free to serve Christ, to love Christ, to love others, to witness the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to sing of his beauty, to preach his word, to study his word, to depend upon his grace, which is sufficient for every aspect of our lives. We are no longer in bondage to sin, law, and death. We have been freed from them all and have liberty in Jesus Christ, to whom be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Living Above The World - Galatians

Galatians 2:15-16

No Justification By The Law

Paul, Peter and other disciples who trusted in Jesus Christ were Jews by nature; that is, they were Jews by blood linage. They were born Jews and had advantage as such from God because of God's special favor on the Jewish nation as his chosen and loved nation.

But they, along with all of the "sinners of the Gentiles," or the "wicked of the nations," were the same in the sense that they both must be justified, not by works, but by faith in Jesus Christ, For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him (Romans 10:12).

These Jews (Paul, Peter, and others) knew that they were not justified by the law. Saul had spent his entire life serving the law, and it had in it no justification for Saul. First, God had to reveal his son in him (Gal. 1:16). Then he understood that all those years of serving the law had done him no good. He was without God in the world (Eph. 2:12). He needed justification, and he realized on the road to Damascus that only faith in Jesus Christ could justify him before God.

Now, a person can be justified by works before men but not before God. Romans 4:2 tells us: For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. Then James tells us that Abraham was justified by works: James 2:21-22 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? Abraham was justified by his works before men but not before God.

Those who teach that a person can be justified by works before God are living in the world, but those who trust completely in Christ as the object of their faith are genuinely justified before God and are living above the world, above the curse of the law, above the challenges of personal endeavor, above all carnal efforts and petty works of man's hands. This is living like a king (Rev. 1:6), out of this world with Christ.

By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified, that is, before God. Baptism, good deeds, church membership, benevolences, these are all works of the law; for, if they are not done as Jews, who are under the oracles of God (Rom. 3:2), they are done as Gentiles, who, if they do what is written in the law, they are a law unto themselves (Rom. 2:4).

The law itself has brought us to God (Gal. 3:24), but it cannot justify us, but after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster (Ga 3:25)-- "Free from the law, oh happy condition, Jesus has died, and there is remission." Because of Jesus' keeping of the law, he could die for our sins in perfection satisfaction to the Father's command. Now those who come to Christ by faith can be justified forever. Amen!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Living Above The World - Galatians

Galatians 2:11-14

The Standoff

Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Some things we are to withstand, or stand against. We know that we are to stand against the wiles of the Devil and not to be overtaken with the enemies of God. We are to be faithful in God's work.

Peter was in the wrong in these verses, because he was a hypocrite. He pretended to be one and the same with Gentiles until the Jews came around; then he decided to change and pretend that he was with the Jews, one and the same with them. I wonder what the Gentiles thought as Peter separated himself from them? What would you think if someone pretended to be your friend and then turned his back on you? Is this ministry to Peter (to the Jews) a ministry that is exclusive in the sense that God is saving only Jews and that Peter must cater to the Jews? No. It is, we have already learned, for both the Jew and the Gentile.

Peter may very well eat with the Jews, but he has just given his right hand of fellowship condoning the work of Paul among the Gentiles and agreeing that God saves Jew and Gentile alike. To break from a lifelong tradition is very difficult, and to Peter a Gentile was a dog; and he and other Jews were not permitted to eat with them lest they become defiled. Peter should know better, because he is the one who had the vision from Heaven that revealed to him that God had cleansed the Gentile to receive the Gospel, cleansed the Gentile so that he is no longer a defilement to the Jews but that they are sinners in the same lot (See Acts 10:28).

Peter acted out of fear. We as God's children do that often, but we are not to fear the flesh, because the flesh cannot do anything against the truth (2 Cor. 13:8).

Paul had good reason to withstand Peter, because Peter was to be blamed, blamed for being inconsistent concerning the truth of God's working among Jews and Gentiles. Not only so, but he was causing others to be led astray, especially Barnabas, who was carried away with their "dissimulation," which means hypocrisy. We must take care lest we lead others astray.

Peter should not have been teaching the Gentiles to live as the Jews. He definitely was to be blamed. We are free from the law, oh happy condition. All have sinned against God (Rom. 3:23), and all need to repent (Luke 13:3) and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).

Let us not be guilty of hypocrisy. We must preach the Gospel to every creature alike. Every man must give account of himself to God (Romans 14:12).

Yes, we need to stand against some things, but let us be faithful lest Paul or someone else may need to withstand us concerning our hypocrisy or our unfaithfulness.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Living Above The World - Galatians

Galatians 2:10

Remember The Poor

To remember the poor is written in the Mosaic Law: Deut. 15:11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. This is not simply a New Testament command but a command for all time.

Zophar accused Job of oppressing the poor, and he, no doubt, thought that this was the sin that brought God's anger against Job and gave him his great illness: Job 20:19 Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not; This was considered a great sin against God then, and it is also considered a great sin today. However, Job answered to him, Job 29:16 I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.

The wicked persecute the poor in their pride: Psalm 10:2 The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. These will be taken in their own devices.

A strong statement is made in Prov. 14:31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor. I would never want to reproach my Maker, and neither would Paul the Apostle; and he was very knowledgeable of this scripture, I am sure.

Again Jesus says in Matt 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. So, we have a perpetual privilege and command that we should remember the poor, for they are among us and always will be with us.

Now Paul later on was involved in collecting money for the benefit of the poor saints (Rom. 15:26 et al). Thus, in our text the Apostles at Jerusalem encourage Paul and his company to remember the poor, which Paul and his company were forward (diligent) to do. It is, then, the commandment of the Law and the commandment of Christ to remember the poor.

James says that we have despised the poor (James 2:3). We as God's children should never be guilty of that, for we must remember that . . . every one of us shall give account of himself to God (Rom. 14:12). Thus, Paul and we ourselves are forward to do.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Living Above The World - Galatians

Galatians 2:6-9

The Equal Ground

Paul at no time thought of himself as being superior to anyone else; neither did he consider others to be superior to him. The only exception is on the occasion that he expresses his energy in exercising the Jews' religion -- Phil. 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

In the flesh he was more adept, more scholarly, more energetic, and more intentioned than anyone else in his religion; but in the Gospel Paul did not rely on the flesh but on God alone. Even the Apostles were off limits to his investigation. He trusted only God, for it was God who called him. No one intimidated him, nor were they seemingly intimidated by him. They all stood on equal ground before God: they owed it all to God and not man. Those who seemed to be "somewhat" were nothing to Paul (verse 6).

The Effectual Work

The Apostles "saw," or understood and were persuaded, that the Gospel of the uncircumcision (Gentiles) was committed to Paul, and they also "saw," or understood, that the Gospel to the circumcision was committed to Peter. Both Peter and Paul were persuaded (and so were the other Apostles) that the Holy Spirit (rendered by "he" in verse 8) had brought about effectually in both of them their calling to the Jews and the Gentiles respectively.

The Earnest Consent

Then a final decision was made for Peter that he and his followers were to evangelize the circumcision (Jews), and Paul and his company were to evangelize the uncircumcision (Gentiles). Thus the missionary direction was laid down for all time thence forward. Our evangelism is in tact; our plan is clear: we must evangelize the whole world (both Jew and Gentile) for the glory of God. Paul and Barnabas were given the right hand of fellowship for the approval to do this work of God planted in their hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Living Above The World - Galatians

Galatians 2:5

No Subjection

In the last lesson we considered that there were some false brethren who were come in privately to spy out our liberty in Jesus Christ that we might be brought under bondage; that is, bondage to the law, to Judaism, to this crumbling and rejecting world.

We have not received the spirit of bondage to fear but rather the spirit of adoption, whereby we know that we are the children of God (Rom. 8:15). We, along with all creation, will be delivered from this bondage of corruption one day when Jesus returns (Rom. 8:21). That is living above the world, because that deliverance is past, present, and future: 2 Cor, 1:10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us. We have been delivered by faith in Jesus Christ, we are being delivered by the seal of the Holy Spirit, and we shall be delivered physically out of this world by the return of Jesus Christ. What a wonderful life, this life above the world!

Therefore, Paul says in our text that we are not to give place (or allow or acquiesce) to this bondage of the world which the false brethren might bring upon us if we compromise, no, not for an hour. One hour can make a tremendous difference in one's life, so we cannot and will not bend or bow to the worldly likes of false brethren brought in so that we might be under bondage. We are to be subject to higher powers, for they are ordained of God (Rom. 13:1). We are to be subject (as churches) to Christ (Eph. 5:24). We are to be subject to our masters (1 Peter. 2:18), and we are to be subject one to another (1 Peter 5:5); but we are not to be subject to church bosses or self-proclaimed church leaders, which many times bring in heresy to our churches and corrupt the true Baptist perspective. A one-hour sermon has changed many a young mind from truth to error; and once that mind change has come, bringing it back to truth is very difficult.

The truth of the Gospel is at stake. We dare not allow antinomians, legalists, and perfectionists in our pulpits, no, not even for an hour. It will be like water poured out on the ground: it will be very difficult to get it back into the bucket. Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Pastors, our people are counting on us to give them the truth. The truth will set us free. Thank God! Preach the word!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Living Above The World - Galatians

Galatians 2:1-4

Paul has been living above the world, manifested by his faith in Jesus Christ, which came through Jesus' personal revelation of himself to Saul (Paul). He was living above the world when he pronounced the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, iterating that there is only one Gospel, whether it be preached by Paul, Peter, James, John, or anyone else.

In this devotion we find that now Paul, by the leadership of God (above the world), goes to Jerusalem to communicate the Gospel to those at Jerusalem. He took Barnabas and Titus with him. He spoke publicly to all the disciples, but he communicated with the apostles one by one, verifying that the Gospel which Paul preached is precisely the same Gospel that is being preached at Jerusalem by the other apostles.

Titus, who was a Greek (Gentile), was not required by the apostles at Jerusalem to be circumcised, because they all understood the freedom that the Gospel enabled for every believer and because there were many at Jerusalem who had feigned faith in Jesus Christ in order that they may bring into bondage again those who had left the ordinances which were shadows of good things to come, they being fulfilled in the work of Jesus Christ.

Many Legalists would love to bring believers back under the bondage of the law, requiring not only circumcision, but also celebration of holidays and symbolisms. Even in our day some "Jewish Christians" would love for our churches to take up the celebration of their Jewish holidays and symbolisms: I get printed material often which give evidence of this.

Gal. 4:9 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?

Let us live above the world under the auspices of the great Gospel of Jesus Christ which was received from God above and not from men. Let us understand that our Gospel is a heavenly one and has set us free from the law. Rom. 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Sin has no more power over us: Rom. 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

If sin has no more power over us and we are free from the law, then let us live in liberty above the world to the glory of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Living Above The World - Galatians

Galatians 1:11-24


Paul here is reiterating, or certifying, that the gospel that he preaches is not of man. Its origin is from above, above the world. The gospel we preach is not our gospel but God's gospel. This gospel is not "of," or "according to" (kata) man. Paul did not receive it from (para) man. The gospel was revealed only "by" (di) Jesus Christ.

PAUL'S EXAMPLE (vss 13-24)

This is the crux and the force of Paul's argument. His dedication and certification to the gospel is shown in his change of life. If the gospel does not change a life, then it is not truly in force in a man's life.

Paul's Previous Life, 13-14

Paul's conversation (or way of life) in the past was in the Jews' religion, and that religion persecuted Jesus and the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul went beyond the very religion itself and appended to it persecutions that were "beyond measure," or beyond the measure of the law that was in force against the way of Christ.

This excess shows in three ways: (1) Going "beyond measure," which we have already considered; (2) He profited in the Jews' religion more than any other person had ever done; and (3) Paul was "more exceeding zealous" of the Jews' traditions.

Paul's Changed Life, 15-19

But something happened to Paul: he was immediately changed by God's pleasure, God's separation, God's calling, and God's revelation (see also verse 12). God revealed his Son in Paul (read Acts 9:1-9), that he might preach Jesus among the heathen (Gentiles); and when God revealed Jesus to him, he did not seek out flesh and blood, including the apostles at Jerusalem, but went into Arabia to be taught of the Lord himself. Many believe that he spent three years in Arabia being taught of the Lord (reference is here to verse 18).

Paul's Confirmed Message, 20-24

Because he was taught the message by the Lord himself, Paul's message is not a lie (vs 20). Paul kept himself far away from most men, especially of the apostles; so he was unknown by face to the churches of Judaea. They had only heard of him, but the message was a good one. They had heard that the man who once persecuted the churches is now preaching "the faith," that form of doctrine that is true to Jesus Christ's message to Paul and the other apostles, the same message to both. He preaches the faith that he once destroyed. Then they glorified God in that knowledge. Who, having the true Spirit of God, would not glorify God in the truth of the message of the gospel? Certainly God is glorified every time the gospel is preached; therefore, we should all be witnesses of the one and only true gospel of Jesus Christ, which is revealed, not by men, but by the grace of God. To him be glory forever!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Living Above The World - Galatians

Galatins 1:10-12

Paul cannot preach a different Gospel, because he is not persuading man, but God (vs. 10). He is not out to please men, but God. If he pleases men by catering to them, taking their advice, or depending upon them for his spiritual understanding, he cannot be a servant of Christ. If he were a merely religious man, as he was in the past, then he could and would receive instruction from religious men with influence; but since he is preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, then he cannot lower himself to the realm of man for the final proof of the evidence of the saving grace of God as it is related in the preaching of the true Gospel of Christ.

The Gospel that was preached to Paul was not from men (vs. 11). Man's gospel is one of socialism, a Social Gospel, which is so rampant in our own day. Jesus Christ has been removed from the central theme of most gospels today. In the minds of men, Jesus is no longer the Head of the Church, the only Savior of men, the way, the truth, and the life, and men have done as Israel, as Paul describes them in Romans 10:2, "and they, being ignorant of God's righteousness (Jesus), and going about to establish their own righteousness (not Jesus), have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God (Jesus).

Man's gospel is no good for spiritual things: for salvation, for security, and for the deliverance of God into glory. Man's works fall short of God's righteousness; therefore, they are insufficient for their salvation, and their message is weak, pale, and ineffective to bring a man to God. Jonah explained it when he said in Jonah 2:9 "Salvation is of the Lord."

Neither did Paul receive this Gospel from man or was taught it by man, but he received it directly by a revelation of Jesus Christ Himself. We know the story of his falling to the ground as a result of the great light that shone from Heaven, Jesus being the revelation in the light by a voice that spoke to Saul, revealing himself to Saul as "Jesus, whom thou persecutest."

Paul was swept from his feet, struck with a great degree of weakness and dependence at that very moment, knowing that he must obey the heavenly vision; so he said, "Who art thou, Lord?" Jesus then announced his name "Jesus." Without Jesus, Paul could not rise from the ground, speak his own mind, or resist the vision. He was completely helpless to his own devices. He there surrendered wholly and completely to this Lord named Jesus.

Jesus, then, revealed the true Gospel to him just as he does to everyone whom he calls, and we were all helpless in that moment when the Spirit of God convicted us and wrought that great grace in our souls, convincing us of sin, and delivering us from the power of darkness, being brought into the marvelous light of the Kingdom of God. This is not of man but wholly of God. Thus Paul reiterates here in Galatians.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Living Above The World - Galatians

Galatians 1:6-9

In order to live above the world, an individual must first come into contact with the true gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). If a person is not first approached with the gospel and is not a true believer in that one gospel, then he cannot, no matter how much he may desire to do so, live above the world in that heavenly bliss of the eternal glory of God, his deliverance from sin, his sealing of the Holy Spirit, his joy of service, and the rapture of living above the earthy and having our citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20).

But some in the churches of Galatia had turned from the true, sound, and powerful gospel to another gospel. Since there is no more than one gospel, then turning away from that one and true gospel is the same as turning away from God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit (to which the word "him" refers in verse six.

This alternate gospel is another (Greek heteros) gospel, or a gospel of a different kind. There is, then, only one kind of the true gospel, not several variations or multifarious gospels of the same kind. Any "other" gospel would be of a completely different kind.

That is why Paul says in verse seven, "which is not another (Greek allos). There can never be another gospel of the same kind as the real and true gospel; thus, Paul warns against any variation of this true gospel. Any variation would be a perversion.

If a gospel of another kind is ever preached, the person by whom it is preached is to be "accursed." This other gospel is one with no power, no cause, no heavenly source, no command for propagation, no blessing of God upon it; so every preacher of the gospel must be very careful to preach the one and only true gospel lest he be accursed by God. See verse eight.

This is such an important concept that Paul repeats himself in verse nine to put forth the forceful and needed pronouncement that anyone who preaches a gospel of another kind will be accursed. Of course, only a lost person would preach such a gospel that is foreign to the word of God. No believer, who has met with the gospel, has been convicted by its power, and has been delivered by faith in it, would dare preach "another gospel." The gospel is the message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Thank God I have met it, have believed it, and have eternal life because of it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Living Above The World - Galatians

Galatians 1:1-5 - Introduction

In the wonderful book of Galatians, Paul the apostle writes his experience of, first, living among the men of the world and trying to please men and, second, living above these men and above the world to please God. This is done through faith. The word "faith" is used 20 times in this book, and that word is the basic theme of the book.

Paul explains that he is an apostle, not by men nor of men (within the confines of this world system) but is an apostle by his Savior, Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him (Jesus) from the dead (vs. 1).

He extends greetings from himself and those who are with him to the specific local churches which are located in the area of Galatia. Churches are all local; they are not universal or invisible (vs 2).

To give bonafide evidence that he is living above the world, Paul gives greetings of "grace." Now, grace does not come from man but is a gift of God; and here Paul extends a greeting of grace to these churches from God the Father and Jesus Christ. Where else would this grace come from? There is no other source or treasury whereby grace can be extended. It is a heavenly greeting, not an earthly one (vs 3).

Paul gives specific attention to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He calls him Lord in verse three, and he expresses the work of Jesus Christ as our Savior in verse 4. Jesus Christ "gave himself for our sins." The Greek word for "for" is huper, and it means "in behalf of." Jesus Christ gave himself in our behalf, or in our place. When he was on the cross, he took my place. I should have been crucified, not Jesus Christ, who had no sin. I was the sinner, but I could not die for myself, nor could I suffer in the flesh for any or all of my sins. It took a Savior to die for me. Faith in Jesus Christ raises us above the elements of the world and helps us to live above the world just as it did the apostle Paul (vs. 4).

But why did Jesus die in Paul's place? The verse continues to explain to us that the reason is "that he might deliver us from this present evil world." This deliverance happens upon our being born again and allows us to live above the rudiments of the world and from under the traditions of men. We can live in and by the Spirit of God and can enjoy Heaven's best blessings without the help of people or things in earth. Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (vs. 4)

It is the will of God, our Father,that we live above the world, having our conversation in heaven (Phil. 3:20), our minds on Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), and having a separation from the world (1 John 2:15; 2 Cor. 6:17).

This is all done to the glory of God, and this glory will last forever and ever. Ephesians 3:21 tells us that his glory is gained in the church (the local churches), and that glory will endure forever. May God be please to both prompt us to live above the world and to separate ourselves from the world and its traditions, as Paul did, so that we may be proper instruments of service to his honor and glory.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Bible vs The Koran

The Bible, God’s word, is the most wonder, beautiful, trusted book in the world. If Christians had no Bible, they would be helpless, and faith would be in vain. But we have a Bible. Read it often; memorize it; hide its words in your heart that you might not sin against God (Psalm 119:11). Preserved properly in the King James Version, we use it in all the teachings and devotions at First Baptist Church.

At this point in history, America is at a crossroads of religion. America, as all of us know, was established upon, not only Biblical principles, but more specifically upon Christian principles. This is not to say that Biblical and Christian principles are at variance, but it is to be noted that many people who are not Christians believe the Bible. America has not falsely been called a Christian nation.

The crossroads seem to be upon religious grounds, and it is a charge of controversy against many of the axioms of the Koran. It seems that the Koran has taken the place of the Bible in many educational institutions and in other areas of American life.

We all know that God has a Son named Jesus and that He is the “only begotten” Son of God, that he was given in death and resurrection for our sins, and that he saves anyone who will come to him in repentance and faith. The Koran denies this in several passages: “… Jesus, the son of Mary, was no more than God’s apostle … God is but one God. God forbid that he should have a son.” (4:171). “Praise be to God, who has never begotten a son; who has no partner in his Kingdom (17:111).

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Compare Hosea 11:1 with Matt. 2:15.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Memory

By Pastor Ronnie Wolfe - 5/27/2010

A nation built by death and tears
Has come to lax throughout the years
And, cumbered with so many things,
Listens not as the sparrow sings.

She dances in the dark of night,
Entertains her friends till light,
Sleeps till noon in light of day,
And throws her memories far away.

Remembers not the battle cry,
The swords, the planes in the warrior sky,
Nor thinks of men who gave their lives,
The wounds on which this country thrives.

Look back again, my country fair
At noble men out there somewhere,
Who gave it all for thee to live,
For younger ones their lives to give.

Now sits a country tilting free
Upon the fulcrum all can see.
Which way to turn to set us free?
Forget not “sea to shining sea.”

Monday, May 17, 2010

Muslim Wins Religion Prize

A man by the name of Eboo Patel has won the Grawemeyer religion prize from the University of Louisville and the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Mr. Patel is an adviser to the White House's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Mr. Patel's organization, Interfaith Youth Core, is now active in 75 college campuses "for exposing young people to pluralism to help counteract the influence of religious radicals." [The Christian Century, December 29, 2009, pg. 17].

Mr. Patel was named one of "America's Best Leaders 2009" by U. S. News & World Report. Everyone should watch this man and others like him, because his intention may not be the most honest one. His intention may be a deceitful acquiescence to the faith of Islam. The article in The Christian Century ends with a citation from Harvard's Kennedy School Review "as one of the 'five future policy leaders to watch.'"

Take that for what it is worth, and it is worth taking a look and watching the coming events from these organizations and Mr. Patel.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oh Death!

By Pastor Dr. Ronnie Wolfe – May 5, 2010

Oh death, that ceaseless wonder
That grasps the very depths of comprehension,
That awesome, capturing wonder,
That captures all its prey with stark attention:

How weak the cumbrous provisions
Made by men in useless preparation
For that fateful day of death,
When no one in himself meets else but desperation

Your grasp and grip are strong;
Your hold more strong than all imagination;
Retreat from your cold clutch
Seems now a gross exaggeration

Hold fast, oh death, your duty;
Grip your prey with one eternal chord.
Ne’er loose, oh death, your order,
Lest prey arise from grave, your solemn word.

As there you held our Savior,
But let him slip that one remembered day;
Ne’er loose the dead now sleeping
Lest by one promise the chosen slip away.

How ignorant you, oh death,
That you should think yourself so vast, eternal.
Your strength in human sin,
The power of grace superior and supernal.

The sting of death has victory,
Swallowed up by sovereign grace divine.
Your horrid blanket o’er my body
Brings no fear: your putred stench not mine.

For there waits blessed victory
My soul redeemed from death and human sin.
God’s blood cleansed my transgressions,
His life was giv’n my fallen soul to win.

Oh death, be calmly quiet;
Your days are numbered like human bones decay.
For then the day death dies
Brings victory, flesh and soul, in glorious day.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Simple Faith

We hear much about simple faith, and we as Baptists do believe in only faith for salvation. But we need to be careful about using the phrase “simple faith.” This subject has been a topic of great controversy among Baptists in the past.

During the early days of Baptists in America, these churches had to contend with many controversies. One was that of the anti-mission Baptists; another was the controversy over baptismal regeneration; and a third was the doctrine of Sademanianism. The Baptist theologian of the 19th century, Andrew Fuller, named this doctrine in 1812 in a book with twelve letters entitled “Strictures On Sandemanianism.” He says in this book that he calls this doctrine by this name, because no one has used any other name; so Mr. Fuller named it after its originator, Robert Sandeman.

This doctrine states that a person can make a simply “intellectual assent” to the truth of the Bible and be regenerated in that way. This is what many call “simple faith.” We do believe in “faith alone,” but not in a simple intellectual faith. I fear that too many people who call themselves Christians have a simple intellectual faith in Jesus Christ. But true faith in Jesus Christ involves both our emotions and our minds. Before I tasted honey, I did not like it; but after I tasted it, I wanted more and more honey. The same is true with Jesus Christ. Peter said in 1 Peter 2:2-3 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Faith is a taste of eternal things that directs our minds and hearts toward Jesus Christ, and we love him and serve him with a true heart. I have never lost my taste for honey.

Look for an article in The Baptist Defence on this in the next issue.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Newness In Resurrection

Rev. 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

A New Life — 1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. Jesus’ resurrection brought new life with assurance to believers. It guarantees that this new life will be sustained by the Spirit of God, and his promises will be fulfilled completely unto our eternal abode with Jesus Christ.

A New Day — The new day of worship, Sunday, was practiced in New Testament days because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This new day depicts the wonder of Jesus’ resurrection and celebrates the new life, the new beginning, in every new believer. It is to be observed as the Lord’s day, and it is not to be forsaken. Heb. 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

A New Covenant — Jer. 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Heb 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel. — Heb 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Keeping The Foundations

Psalm 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Three of the foundations that we should not allow to be destroyed are (1) the Bible, (2) the church, and (3) the family. These have been found in scripture and in society to be the building blocks of a righteous society. Without these solid foundations any nation is doomed to the rule of the wicked. Prov. 29:2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

The Bible As A Foundation

When I speak of the Bible, I speak of the lineage of manuscripts upon which the King James Version of the Bible was translated. The Tyndale Bible, the Geneva Bible (which our founding fathers used), and several other editions came from the same good manuscripts, a line that has been preserved down through the centuries. In the mid to late 1800's new manuscripts were found, and new versions of the Bible have been produced from these discarded manuscripts. The King James Version was translated and published in 1611, and it brought many revivals and spiritual growth for over 270 years until a version came out in 1880, which was based upon the newly found Greek manuscripts. Many of the people who use the new versions of the Bible develop a disrespect and even a hatred for the King James Version. Show me the revivals and the spiritual growth that has come from these new versions. God has preserved his word, and it is the same word that was written by the prophets of old (2 Peter 1:21), the same scriptures that were being written in Timothy's day (2 Tim. 3:16), the same scriptures that were to have a completeness (1 Cor. 13:10), and the same scriptures that are not to be appended (Rev. 22:18).

The Church

Christ's kind of church is a local assemble of baptized believers in Christ who are covenanted to a dedication of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). The writer of Hebrews says that we are not to forsake assembling in that local church (Heb. 10:25). Jesus Christ receives glory in his churches (Eph. 3:21), and the church of Jesus Christ is the pillar and ground (foundation) of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).

The Family

God instituted the family in the Garden of Eden, bringing together one man and one woman to be one flesh. They were later commanded to replenish (fill) the earth with their offspring (Gen. 1:28; 9:1). The importance of the family is taught all through the scriptures. The Bible teaches us that we are to train up our children in the way of the Lord (Deut. 6:7; Eph. 6:4). Our children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). They are as arrows (Psalm 127:4-5), and the quiver should be full (remember, some quivers are larger than others).

If these foundations be kept up and supported, we can live in righteousness. These foundations crumble with age, and they are fragile to many opposing blows; and that is the reason that we need to constantly keep them repaired. Once they have been damaged, it is very difficult to repair them.

Prayer, scripture reading, church attendance, righteous living, and witnessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ are things that will help keep these foundations in repair; for, if the foundations be destroyed, what will the righteous do? We have nowhere else to turn.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Perfect Peace

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3.

What is perfect peace? It is a peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). It is the peace of God (Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15). It is peace with God (Rom. 5:1).

There is no peace in the earth except that peace which rests in the hearts of believers in God and his Son, Jesus Christ. This peace resides deep in the recesses of the inner being of the believer. It is difficult to understand and to explain. Like the calm which Jesus manifested as he slept on the boat in the midst of a vehement storm (Matt. 8:24), like the calm on the sea just after the Lord said "Peace, be still" (Mark 4:39), we can have this same peace in our hearts, though the world give us grief, trouble, and sorrow.

There is no break in perfection: it is constant and continuous. This perfect peace rises above our trials and our worries. It settles arguments and brings friendships. It edifies saints and enhances fellowship among believers. That is because it is God's peace. There is a song that says so correctly, "There's a deep settled peace in my soul."

If you do not have that spiritual peace with God, you can through faith in Jesus Christ, his Son, believing that he died to pay for sin, that he was buried and rose again the third day according to the scriptures. Bring your heart and soul into that permanent peace with God through justification by faith (Romans 5:1).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Purpose of Proverbs

The wisdom of Solomon is manifested to us at its best in the book of Proverbs. These terse and touching maxims from the Holy Spirit are comfort to the soul and correction for the body and mind. Solomon wrote these proverbs for several reasons.

(1) To know wisdom, which all of us need. James tells us that, if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God. We all do lack it to a perfect degree, and the wisdom of God's word is paramount in our lives as a result.

(2) To know instruction, which without we would be blundering anarchists of the worst sort. God has given his word for "correction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).

(3) To perceive the words of understanding, of which the Bible teaches us that we have none (Rom. 3:11).

(4) To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity. We are all ready to hear instruction, but we are not so ready to receive it in our hearts and minds to obey it. Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22; cf Prov 21:3).

(5) To give subtilty to the simple. The Hebrew word for "subtilty" means "shrewd, crafty, or prudent." That is, the proverbs give to the simple the wisdom that the learned world tries to grasp but falls so much short of.

(6) To give to the young man knowledge and discretion. The Hebrew word for "discretion" can also be translated "purpose." A man (person) needs a purpose in life, and the word of God will give that to him.

We should give ourselves to reasoning which is developed from God's word. These proverbs will give us opportunity for much deep thought and contemplation. We should read a little every day and be wise servants of Jesus Christ.