Thursday, December 15, 2011

We Are Not Children Of The Bondwoman

Galatians 4:17-31

The Affection, 17-21

The pronoun "they" in verse 17 refers back to Galatians 2:4 "false brethren unawares brought in." These false brethren affect the true believers with their zealous work that they may bring the Galatians under the bondage of the law. The effect is not a good one, because it destroys the freedom that we have in Christ (See Gal. 5:1). They do this so that they may steal the affection of these believers away from Paul and his true Gospel unto themselves and their damnable doctrine of salvation by the law.

Paul here challenges the believers that they may be zealous, but only in a good thing. In other words, the truth matters. He is concerned about them, because he is like a mother who has travailed to birth in his work for them, and they were born again by the message of grace that he brought to them. Now he is travailing "in birth again" as he did in the beginning when they believed in Christ, but now his travail is for their further maturity in Christ so that false brethren will not be able to turn them away from their teaching and preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. At this point he stands in doubt of them, that perhaps they have not been truly born again as they may profess.

The Allegory, 22-31

These verses relate a familiar story from the Old Testament of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah. We know that the son born of Abraham by Hagar was not the child of promise that God was going to use to both bring a holy posterity to Abraham and to fulfill a promise that would eventually be an allegory to teach salvation by grace.

Ishmael was born of the bondwoman. This illustrates how we through Adam were born in bondage to sin and the condemnation of the law. Isaac was born of Sarah through a promise given by God.

Hagar represents Mount Sinai; Sarah represents Mount Zion (Jerusalem which is above). We see a good contrast of these two mountains in Hebrews 12:18-24, which read soon. Now we are "the children of promise," 28.

There is, then, persecution from those born under bondage toward those who are born free. Therefore, we are to "cast out" the bondwoman (Mount Sinai, the law) and her son (whatever doctrines spring from dependence upon the law).

Instead of cooperating with the Gospel of the law or assimilating its teachings with the true Gospel, we should "cast out" that carnal and damnable doctrine and trust Christ alone for salvation, so that we can be children "of the free." Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Have I Become Your Enemy?

Galatians 4:10-16

"Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years." These were the observances that both Paul and many of the Galatian believers had done in the past when they were children under the law. But now these observances have been "done away" (2 Cor. 3:11-14). They are but shadows of that which was great, that which was to come, the mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16), which Paul preached was in Jesus Christ.

Since the Galatians have taken up again the elements, or rudiments, of the law, from which they were delivered through grace and faith in Christ, he says that he is afraid of them, afraid that he has bestowed his labor, the labor of preaching the pure gospel to them, in vain, verse 11.

In verse 12 Paul encourages them to "be as I am," which intimates that they should be standing in the grace of God (Rom. 5:2) and not in the elements of the law. Paul is only a sinner saved by grace, delivered from the offenses of the law, and made new in Christ; therefore, he can also say "I am as ye are." Their turning back to the law has not injured Paul, but it has injured the cause of Christ and the cause of the preaching of the gospel of Christ. Their witness was overshadowed by the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Col. 2:8).

Paul originally came to them with "infirmity" and "temptation." The infirmity is from a word that means "weakness," so this could have been some type of physical ailment that Paul had (many say his eyesight was dim--Gal. 6:11). The temptation was some type of trial that he may have been having as he did his work among the Galatians. Whatever it was, the Galatians knew of it, and they were well with it and even showed him kindness in it and joy in the message that he brought, which was the gospel of the grace of God, verse 13-14, and they received him as an angel, or as they would an angel of God.

In those beginning days of Paul's preaching to them the gospel of Jesus Christ, they loved him so and was so kind and blessed to him that they not only spoke of that kindness to him, but they would have also plucked out their own eyes and given to him (which lends another evidence that his weakness could have been his eyes). This is how much they loved, grasped, and propagated the gospel of Jesus Christ at the first, 15.

But now they seem to be enemies of Paul. Why? It is because they have now turned from the pure grace of God (in their teaching) to the beggarly elements, whereunto they desire to be in bondage (see verse 9). It seems that they have become his enemy because he tells them the truth and will not go with them to the new doctrine of Mr. Law; that is, the law mixed with grace, which is not grace at all (see Rom. 11:6). Law and grace have always been enemies, for the law does not allow for grace; it allows only for mercy. Paul will continue to tell them the truth no matter what they do, because once the message of the gospel has gone away from its true character and principles, the message will continually change to please the ears of hearers; but the truth never changes. John 17:17 -- Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Friday, December 2, 2011

When We Were Children

Galatians 4:1-9

Dispensationalism teaches us that this reference to being a child refers to the Old Testament dispensation, wherein those hearing the word of God were still under the Law of Moses, and that they were released from that when Jesus died. This does not seem to be the meaning here, in my opinion.

Being a child and under tutors and governors has reference to our being, as unbelievers, under the law, constrained by the law for a better moral behavior, and sternly corrected by the law as to our many wrongs. We as unbelievers are under the stringent rule of the law "until the time appointed of the father." In our case it would be the appointed time of our Heavenly Father.

When we were children, unbelievers, we were "in bondage under the elements of the world" (verse 3). This explains to us that, when we were lost in our sins, we were under the influence of only earthly and humanistic elements, worldly elements. Even the law is a worldly element, for all the law can do is bring us to guilt and shame; the law cannot bring freedom, yea, it has no desire to free us from itself: it only holds us to itself in jealous ownership. Thus, salvation cannot come by the law, since it is made up of "elements of the world."

In verses four and five Paul explains to us how that we can, despite the law's ever-insistent commands, be free from the law for salvation. It is because God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem us so that we might receive, by his grace, the adoption of sons.

Now that we are free from the law and sons of God, being born from above (John 3:3), we have the Spirit of his Son (the Holy Spirit) in our hearts by which we call out to our Heavenly Father in a very personal way (6), knowing we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17).

Now that we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-10), we are no more children, but sons, and heirs (7) according to the promise (Gal. 3:29) and according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7).

Verse eight and nine describe that when we were children we "knew not God" and "did service unto them which by nature are no gods." We served the "elements of the world" and not God. But now, after we are known of God, how can we turn again to the "weak and beggarly elements"? How can we desire to be in bondage as a child under the "elements of the world" when we have been made free from them by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that perfect work that redeemed us by his blood through the death of the cross?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We Must Believe That He Is

Hebrews 11:6

Heb. 11:6 . . . he that cometh to God must believe that HE IS!
Acts 9:20 . . . he is the Son of God.
Ac 10:36 . . . (he is Lord of all:)
Eph 2:14 For he is our peace . . .
Eph 5:23 . . . he is the saviour of the body.
Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
2 Tim 1:12 . . . he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
Heb. 2:18 . . . he is able to succour (help) them that are tempted.
Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
Heb 9:15 . . . he is the mediator of the new testament . . .
Heb. 10:23 . . . he is faithful that promised
Heb. 11:6 . . . he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
1 Pet 2:7 . . . he is precious
1 John 1:9 . . . he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:7 . . . he is righteous
1 John 3:3 . . . he is pure.
Rev 3:14 He is . . . the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev 17:14 . . . he is Lord of lords, and King of kings
Rev 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; . . .
Re 2:23 . . . I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Neither Jew Nor Greek

Galatians 3:28-29

There are at least three areas in life where people make a difference in social standing or in religious priority. They are (1) Jew and Greek, (2) bond and free, and (3) male and female.

The first area of division is cultural. The Jews in biblical times had no dealings with the Gentile nations. In fact, God told them not to mimic the Gentile nations as to their way of life. They were not to marry them or to have business dealings with them. This, of course, was sanctioned by God only to show his selection of Israel as a nation and his sovereign choice as it stands in his attributes--God can choose what or whom he will choose. Then Jesus broke the barrier when he spoke to the Samaritan woman in John chapter four. Then he completely eliminated the difference when he gave the Great Commission to his churches, that they should go and preach the Gospel to all nations (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, etc.). Paul tells us in Romans 10:12 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. In the local church of the Lord Jesus Christ there is no difference between the members in God's sight. They are all sinners saved by grace and baptized into the membership of that church (1 Cor. 12:13) whether they be Jews or Gentiles.

The second area of division is societal. There were both bond and free men in Bible times. The bondage of a slave did not preclude his being saved by the grace of God without the deeds of the law. The free man had no more opportunity to be born again than the bondman did. Paul was a free Roman, and he used that to his advantage; but he was not any more prone to be born again than a man who was in bondage. In the local churches in Galatia, the members were all saved by grace and baptized into the membership of those churches (1 Cor. 12:13) whether they be bond or free.

The third area of division is gender. There is neither male nor female. Now, there certainly is a vast difference between a male and a female in this life, but there is no difference in God's sight in salvation, and there is no difference in the membership of a local church. Certainly, in the churches there are different positions for male and female; but as far as membership itself, there is no difference in male and female.

We have now only to consider the reason that the divisions are not different. It is because of what is mentioned in verse 29: "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." It is, of course, because in Christ we are all the children of Abraham (his seed) and heirs of Abraham. Rom. 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. We are joint-heirs with Christ: Rom. 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

So, there is no difference in any of these areas; therefore, we are all personally responsible to God no matter what nationality, social standing, or gender. Every man must give account of himself to God (Romans 14:12); and in the churches we are to love one another, for there is not one member that is any better than another member as far as our standing before God.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Day After Thanksgiving

By Pastor Dr. Ronnie Wolfe – November 25, 2011

Still, still my heart sings on, believing on His Precious Son.
One day is not enough to raise exhaustive song, extended praise.
So further still my heart sings on the praise of God’s eternal song.
Just saved by grace through faith divine, sublimest thought is ever mine.

And when tomorrow’s troubles come and strong desire to them succumb,
Again I turn my heart to thee, and pray thy word to set me free.
Then with thy words deep in my mind, I step on forward, life refined,
And put my trust alone in thee, still praising God his will to be.

Baptized Into Christ

Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

So much confusion has been wrought by misapplying the meaning of "baptized" in this and other verses in scripture. A basic rule of interpretation instructs us to give priority to the most basic and obvious meaning of a word rather than to give it a spiritual application. This phrase "baptized into Christ" has been skewed by many religions. One interpretation is that we are baptized in water "into" Christ, meaning that we are saved through the operation of baptism. Another interpretation is that we are baptized "into" Christ in a spiritual way; that is, we are saved by our being baptized (dipped) with Christ, not in a literal way in water, but by being buried with Christ when he was buried and resurrected when he was resurrected. But this not only puts salvation in the wrong place in time, but it uses a Protestant-invented theory that has been used against immersion for baptism [see Graves-Ditzler Debate, et al].

To be "baptized into Christ" means to be baptized in water (which is the basic and obvious meaning of the word baptize) in relationship to Christ; that is, we are baptized in water because Christ died, was buried, and resurrected. Baptism is a wonderful picture, a type, a figure of the very act of the Gospel, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4; 1 Peter 3:21).

This baptism in water is a prerequisite to being a member of a local church, and the churches of Galatia were all local assemblies -- 1 Cor. 12:13 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. We are baptized in water in relationship to one body, which is a local church.

Now in being baptized into Christ, we have put on Christ, which means that we have identified ourselves with Christ as our Savior and Lord publicly, as when putting on a uniform. He is the head of each local church, and he instructs us through his word by the work of the Holy Spirit. We should all, then, surrender to his leading and submit to his orders. We put on Christ by being a member of a Bible-centered local church and working through that church to bring honor to God and his Son, Jesus Christ.

So, before thee, Lord, empty hands we bring.
Fill them with your perfect will.
As members of your local church,
Our sullen hearts your Spirit fill.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Children of God By Faith

Galatians 3:26

The simplicity of this passage should allow no doubt in the mind of any reader that salvation is by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). For those who desire to append baptism or the works of the law, this terse and forceful statement should suffice to quell the slightest belief to the contrary.

God has made the Gospel plain in his word, and the requirement of those who are born again is only that they believe. Now, for those who would say that this is too easy, the reminder remains that this faith is not a carnal or human faith but one that is given by the grace of God. The popular verses of Eph. 2:8-9 let us know that faith is a gift, and also Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith . . . . Also, the Bible teaches us in Heb. 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Yes, we are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, but we must understand that the carnal mind cannot attain to this divine adoption of the children of God. Rom. 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

There is no salvation until there is a genuine giving of life to the sinner. This regeneration is the power of God using the Gospel to bring a lost sinner to His saving knowledge. What a true and blessed relationship this is between the sinner and God! The sinner's faith is genuine, and God's grace is genuine; but both must be intact and exercised before true salvation can be had.

Christ Jesus, then, is the object of this faith, for this faith is "in Christ Jesus." With our faith locked in to Jesus Christ, we can be assured that this object will not fail us and that we will be saved unto the uttermost (Heb. 7:25).

Soul's salvation, grand and sweet
Procured through faith at Jesus' feet
Drawn up from our Savior's love
Accomplished in His realm above.

Sovereign Savior, giver of life
Stand with God where grace is rife.
Settle His cause, accuse no more
Faith procured by Calvary's sore.

Friday, October 7, 2011

From The Mountain Top

By Pastor Dr. Ronnie Wolfe
Funeral Poem For Stan Garrison
October 8, 2011 – Shelbyville, Kentucky

From the top of the mountain I look below
To see life’s journey to and fro.
I notice there a cruel thing
As the west winds blow and the sparrows sing.

When comes forth life from the mother’s womb,
So quickly follows the cold, cold tomb.
How short this life with its ups and downs
As goes its way like circus clowns.

I grieve as I see my comrades pass
But I thrill when they leave this world first class.
They leave this world from the broken sod
To a city whose builder and maker is God.

And wait there anxious to see our face
Who’ve been redeemed by amazing grace.
And great reunion we’ll enjoy
And to our God rich hymns employ.

From the mountain top I look on high
To that great hope beyond the sky
And look to Christ, my greatest end
And there unite with this my friend.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Law Is Our Schoolmaster

Galatians 3:24-25

The schoolmaster, or tutor, in its proper use and administration is only temporary; for every child grows to maturity and then goes on without a schoolmaster to carry on the more mature ventures and qualities of life. Therefore, the law of Moses was also a temporary restraint to the Jews that they would know righteousness and holiness only through signs, symbols, types, and ordinances.

The Jews, in their former position before Christ came, performed the commandments of the law, both ceremonial and moral, in order to be refrained from the conduct and attitudes of the Gentiles. They were God's chosen people, and they were to be separate.

They, however, did not understand the mystery of the Gospel until Jesus, their Messiah, had come and done his duty as High Priest, taught them verbally, and sent the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth. When the Messiah came, he was to fulfill all the ceremonial law and meet the demands of the moral law. When, in his redemptive work on Calvary, Jesus brought to nothing the need for the law to be a schoolmaster, it was "done away" (See 2 Cor. 3:7, 11, 14).

Christ's fulfilling the law manifested that our justification is not by the law but completely by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). The schoolmaster simply brought men up to the point where Christ was to be given as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins: the law pointed to Christ all along the way until Christ fulfilled the law. Then the law was no longer a necessary witness, but Christ himself became our witness through the Holy Spirit.

Before faith comes, we are all under the schoolmaster; for the law is the only instrument that we have to restrain our actions and to produce any level of guilt in our conscience. But after faith comes, we are no longer under the schoolmaster (the law) because of Christ: Heb 7:26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.

Thus, by faith we are the children of God and not by the law. Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Friday, July 29, 2011

In Memory

By Pastor Dr. 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.”

Friday, July 22, 2011

Free From The Law, Oh Happy Condition

Galatians 3:23

Before Faith Came

Instead of Christ, the object of our faith, and instead of the doctrine of faith, as is mentioned by John Gill, this is saving faith in my opinion. Everyone, whosoever he may be who is saved by the grace of God was sometime in the past without faith, had no hope, and was without God in the world (Eph. 2:12). Each one of us had to wait until faith came to us, for faith is the object of God's grace, the result of his great love for us, a divine fruit of the Spirit of God (Gal. 5:22). Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

We Were Kept Under The Law

In ancient times slaves were used in the daytime sometimes to turn the mill, but they were not free. At night they were put down into a pit, and a grinding stone was put over the pit to prevent their escape. They continued to be slaves until they were redeemed or set free from their slavery. Also, as a soldier, the slaves were guarded from escape, keeping each slave on guard against a resistance to the law of his owner. So, the law of God kept watch over us before faith came to us. We were guarded and made responsible for each and every law issued forth by God and were due condemnation for each error made against the law.

Shut Up Unto The Faith Which Should Afterwards Be Revealed

But the law cannot condemn a man who has been set free from the condemnation of the law. The law has no more control over him, but his Redeemer is his lawyer, his teacher, his comforter, and his Master. To every believer this faith was to be revealed. This faith came after the law had condemned us and had shut us up; but Christ broke through the chains of the law and gave us faith by measure (Romans 12:3).

Jesus Christ has set us free; we are no longer under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14-15). Jesus Christ was made "under the law" (Gal. 4:4) so that he might redeem us who were under the law (Gal. 4:5). Therefore, we are free from the law, "oh happy condition." Being led by the Spirit of God, we are not under the law, guarded by it, or condemned by it (See Gal. 5:18; Romans 8:1).

Friday, July 8, 2011

No on Post

I am sorry that I have not been on post lately. I have been busy preparing for two classes to be taught online this fall for Antioch Baptist College. I will be teaching Ecclesiology and Anthropology this fall. If you are interested in taking the classes, please respond to this post. I hope soon to continue on the book of Galatians. Thanks, everyone, for reading.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Living Above The World - Galatians

Wherein Is The Law?
Galatians 3:19-22

If the law cannot save, which is amply illustrated in this chapter, then what need is there that a law exist? It may seem to be of no value to anyone who is hearing these words of Paul.

But then Paul answers this objection by explaining that the law was added because of transgressions; that is, it did not take the place of the promise that was made 430 years before it, given to Abraham. It cannot supplant that promise nor make it of none effect.

The law was added to this promise to regulate the behavior of the people of God who would, without the law, no doubt have been even more sinful than they actually were. Being constrained by the law, their lives were to be holy before their Almighty God. They were to be true to holiness and righteousness. They were accountable to each and every law that God added to his promise. In other words, they became guilty before God as a results of the entrance of the law.

The law was for their good; for without the law of God, they would never have known anything about the life of holiness that would bring them success, joy, peace, and fellowship with the Father. They were constrained by the law to live a valuable and fruitful life that would bring God's blessings.

There must, then, be a reconciliation between God and man, because a man and his law cannot bring them together; it can only make men responsible before Him. Man is one, and with one there can be no mediator (verse 20). Man is one side of this disagreement (sin) between man and God, and God is one (the other one involved). We read, of course, in 1 Timothy 2:5 that Christ Jesus is the only mediator between God and men.

The law was given until the seed (Jesus Christ) came, to whom the promise was made (verse 19). This promise was not only made to Jesus Christ, but it was also accomplished in Him.

Now, if the law could give life (verse 21), then righteousness could be obtained and attained by the keeping of the law; but since the law is dead ("the letter killeth"), the conclusion must be that "all (are) under sin," and the promise "by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." See Titus 3:5.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Living Above The World - Galatians

The Covenant And The Law
Galatians 3:17-18

Although Abraham is the father of the nation of Israel, the covenant made with Abram was to bless all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3). Paul tells us in Gal. 3:17 that this covenant was "confirmed before of God in Christ." So, this covenant was not just a promise of a land for Israel; it was a promise of eternal life for those who believe. Romans 4:3 says, For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. To prove that this is a spiritual covenant, Paul goes on in Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

This covenant (promise) was made before the law, which rejects the law for salvation. Salvation is by promise, not by law (works). Paul uses an allegory to show this in Gal. 4:23 But he [who was] of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman [was] by promise. The difference is "after the flesh" and "by promise."

If you are saved "after the flesh," then you are not really saved. If you are saved "by promise," then you are truly saved. These are not my words but God's words.

This is true, because the promise was made to Abram 430 years before the law was given to Israel through Moses, so we know that Abram was saved by grace through faith and not by works. The law does not and cannot make void the promise that was 430 years before it.

Galatians 3:18 tells us that, if the inheritance (salvation) is of the law (of the flesh), then it is not of promise. Conclusion: "but God gave it to Abraham by promise." It is blessed to be saved by grace through faith without the deeds of the law. Rom. 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.