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.