"Grace's Declaration of Independence"; A Study In The Book Of Galatians
July 1, 2012

C. R. Oliver

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July 1, 2012

"Grace's Declaration of Independence"
A Study In The Book Of Galatians

          Paul tackled the opponents of Grace throughout this wonderful first book of his writings. Having suffered much from the Jews, he was unwilling to see his converts slide back into a form of Judaism, even though it was being administered and nurtured by Jewish converts. However, in attacking this error, he, in essence, attacked all forthcoming attempts to "add things" to the Grace Gospel flowing out of Christ.
          As he developed his treatise, he established rules of thumb to be applied to a larger universe of aberrative adjuncts that would attach themselves to the pure gospel. They apply today.

Grace vs. the Law:
          Beginning with the irrefutable place of Christ (Gal 1:1-5) as the deliverer from the evil age (including evil intentioned religious workers), Paul slammed his opponents and began a frontal attack on them.
Galatians 1:6-7
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,
7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
He uses a process term, "you are (in the middle of) turning away," to indicate there is a process in progress, but it has not been completed. Blinded by fleshly rationale, instead of using discernment of the Spirit, they were in the process of becoming "perverted."
NT:3344 metastrepho (met-as-tref'-o); from NT: 3326 and NT:4762; to turn across, i.e. transmute or (figuratively) corrupt: KJV - pervert, turn.
(Comment: Aside from the Judaizers of Paul's day, how often we observe similar situations taking place two thousand years after his writing. Apostatized! Transmuted [transformed into some other thing]! These words capture how easy it is for men and women to embrace a corrupted Christ and turn away from the true gospel.)

Turning away from the God (the Father) who called them is a serious issue. God was the one who called them (and us) into the "grace of Christ" in the first place. This is the heart of the gospel message. This is what is sought in evangelism. This is the Apostle's charge. This is the prophet's response, the pastor's prime message and the teacher's framework. When the gospel is corrupted, it influences and corrupts all the offices of grace ministry and hinders the flow of grace to a world that is heathen (Gentile) and lost!

We are saved by GRACE, nothing added!

However, some of the Jewish converts (and others who were Jewish religionists) were telling the Galatians how necessary it was for the Galatian Christians to keep the Law and practice circumcision. (Some of the Messianic zealots of today are moving closer to this type of sedition.)

Paul considered this an attack on his ministry and a plot to negate his work among them.

To him, it was more than just another affront from the Jerusalem clan; it was an assault against his theology and message. He did not take this lightly. He was unwilling to let the situation "slide" or just hope it would correct itself. He could not remain silent. He knew that one variation, one compromise, one deviation would lead to another and cause a chain reaction from which the church could not recover. (Are we there yet? Has the modern church embraced so many errors that an irreversible status is now incumbent upon the believers?)
Galatians 5:7-11
Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
8 This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.
9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.
Found within this verse is a great truth for the modern church, since there are many "troublers" today. The principle found here is an absolute--Jesus taught about leaven and Paul cited it. He used the sword of the Word to slay the dragon of compromise. Erosion of the gospel of grace would cause a diminution of the territory Paul was claiming for His Lord. Every aspect of Galatians points to one end: "if it doesn't start with Christ and end with Christ," it is not worth considering.
(This is a great rule for today.)

Paul added a stronger invective, however, by saying:
Galatians 1:8-9
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
Jesus, who died in order to redeem mankind from the curse of the Law, commands now his servant (Paul) to curse anyone who dares pollute His sacrifice. There is a new Law in Christ, the Law of Grace!

Profoundly, Paul asserted that his salvation was born and cradled in the Law of grace.
Galatians 1:15-16 ... it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace,
16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles,
In other words, the gospel of grace worked in and through him and was so primal to his ministry, he took personal affront to those who would pervert it. He saw himself as a minister of grace, called by grace, sustained by grace and underwritten by grace. (Take a moment to reflect on what the Apostle was declaring in this statement. Paul's calling was through grace. Listen, fewer and fewer ministers are able to say this. This is what is wrong today. First, moderns manifest no calling. Second, most are devoid in understanding of the great place grace has in ministry. Third, they are ignorant of the grace that enables Jesus to be revealed in the messenger of God. Lives have been corrupted by those who cannot testify to this grace-call.)

Paul could not allow this situation to continue---neither can we!

Paul entered the fray by citing his heavenly credentials and how no man could take credit for his missionary enterprises. He did not rely on his past acquaintances in Judaism nor did he confer with the early Disciples. He took his orders from God alone.

He began his counter attack with a personal testimony about the first time he encountered Judaizers who wanted to impose the regimens of the Law upon new converts. Titus, a Greek convert, was ministering with Paul and was confronted by the Jews about his uncircumcised condition. The basic question was, "How could Titus be allowed to travel with Paul and minister in his compromised condition?"

Paul exploded.

He remonstrated with, "Who are these guys? These Judaizers are people I wouldn't give the time of day (paraphrased)." The implication being, "How then could you Galatians entertain them, even allowing some of yours to follow their doctrine?" (This is a good question today?)

The Apostle related his immediate reaction to their invasion.
Galatians 2:5-6
5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
6 But from those who seemed to be something - whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man - for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.
Paul declared it was well and good for Peter to work among the circumcision-group because his calling was to them. It was Peter's ministry. The Apostle's calling, however, was to the uncircumcised. (Even the pillars of the church had agreed upon this and "perceived the grace that had been given to me" and offered the right hand of fellowship to him.)

Later on, The Jerusalem Council agreed that it was not necessary for the Gentiles (the heathen) to submit to circumcision or keep the tenets of the Law. Their only obligation from the Council was to care for the poor. The basic issue was settled, "the Law had been given as a catalyst (a tutor for a short while as the children of God grew up)." It was a vehicle for grace, which was at the heart of God's intent for His people from the beginning.

(Comment: I do not believe, as many do these days, that Jews have an ongoing covenant and Christians have a separate covenant. Any Jew who does not take Jesus, the Messiah, as his Lord and Savior, faces the same eternal consequence as any other lost person. Those preachers who currently brace up their millennial doctrines by asserting dual means of salvation stand under Paul's curse.)

The Apostle then gave his readers that most wonderful Scripture, which should be memorized by every believer.
Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Standing on this truth, he drew a line of grace. Paul separated the Judaizers (and all who add on stipulations and doctrines) from himself. If his audience stood with the Judaizers, they could not stand with him. It was that simple.
Galatians 2:21
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
Paul then made a declaration of amazement by saying, "O foolish Galatians!" (That is a statement which should hang over many congregations [just supply a church name]. He continued by associating the "add oners" with the practice of witchcraft when he proclaimed: "Who has bewitched you?"

Launching into the favorite defense of Judaizers who propped up their arguments with, "We be Abraham's seed," Paul reviewed the grace that came down to Abraham and the plan of God. He taught the difference between seeds (genealogy) and the promised Seed. Paul's magnificent use of Scripture culminated in a declaration of war on their thinking.
Galatians 3:24-29
Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Then Paul's exasperation manifested itself in, "I am afraid of you."

(Comment: When I review the state of ministry and the modern church, I, too, am afraid. So much deception is rampant that fearfulness [which might have been expressed as, "I fear for you"] has been furthered to, "I am afraid OF YOU.")

The preacher to the Gentiles' reasoning was:
Galatians 4:9-11
9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.
(Comment: Just how fearful should we be today? There are seminaries that will not give a diploma until their recipients swear allegiance to pre-millennial doctrine. There are denominations that will not license, ordain or commission ministers or missionaries who exhibit a "prayer language or speak in tongues." There are institutions that teach liberation theology and graduate preachers encouraged to produce violence. Behold, "I am afraid of you.")
Galatians 4:16-17
Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?
17 They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them ... Gal 4:20 I have doubts about you.
Not only does Paul tell them he is afraid of them and doubtful of them, he tells them why he indicts them.
Galatians 5:4
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Falling from grace is a serious state. Estranged from Christ is a serious condition.
When one leaves the "grace" path, he or she leaves Jesus. Grace was poured out at Calvary and Grace is what is ministered within the new Jerusalem, before the Throne of Grace, every moment of every day!

It is grace that ushers in the "law of liberty," which overrides all other considerations. Who needs "a covering" of pastoral edict when one can live in the "perfect law of liberty?" Who requires certification when the Holy Spirit has affirmed his call and election? To what council should one report which can control the commendations of Christ? If one bows to priest or prelate, let him examine Galatians.
Galatians 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
This is the true "declaration of independence" for every believer!

Paul furthers his foray against bondage of any kind, with: "Don't be in bondage to sin." He then lists and enumerates the sins that lead to bondage (Galatians 19-21). He ends this list with a truth: "Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Then the man from Tarsus, who experienced grace on the Damascus road, gave a principle to live by:
Galatians 5:16
Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Paul then imparted how grace works itself into practical action.
Galatians 5:13
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Grace in Practice:

Galatians 5:22 to 6:13 forms a separate study about the "Grace filled heart." May each of us pray to receive its full impact.

Working with the Spirit.
(Bouncing off the question posed in Galatians 3:5,) Paul tells his readers what it looks like to have a Spirit directed, grace filled ministry.
Galatians 3:5
Therefore He (the Father) who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing (hearing the preaching) of faith?
Issuing from the Galatians 3 passage is the prime treatise of his epistle: Is it Jesus or the Jews? The Jesus ministry is Spirit led and has a different agenda. Instead of promulgating feasts, rituals, offerings of sacrifices and special days, the grace gospel ministers a deeper, more intimate walk with the Lord. The Jewish appeal is "God at a distance," but the Jesus model is, "God up close and intimate ... being 'known by God.'" (This is the separation among ministries today. Mega congregations often offer "God at a distance.")

Examine in light of Galatians 3:5, the passage in Galatians 5:22..
Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Instead of imposing a Law structure, which indicts the Law breaker with manifold sins, the task of the Jesus worker is to restore the brethren, bear their burdens and fulfill the Law of Christ. Investigate chapter 6 verses 1-2.
Galatians 6:1-2
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
How easy it is to judge another in Judaism. How simplistic it is to abandon the sinner and call for the rocks to stone the interloping adulteress. How self-righteous it is to uphold a standard of interaction that has seats of dignity in Synagogues of Wealth, while pushing the poor to "sit here." How intriguing to abandon the helpless like Jesus pointed out about the embattled soul in the "good Samaritan."

Condemnation and abandonment is not the Jesus way. Yet, thousands of congregations, pastors, church leaders and denominations have a trail of those they have "left along the way." There are minister's who could have been redeemed by "spiritual" ones, had they not been ostracized by their own elders and "show cased" as the "fallen." How many poor souls have been abandoned by fellow Christians when they slipped or made a poor decision? Leaders have had credentials ripped, papers torn, reputations besmirched and left in lonely derision-all the while, the Scriptures say that the Jesus way is Galatians 6:1, 2. ( I wonder what this means?)

Bearing One Another's Burdens:
There are three passages in Scripture about burden bearing; two of them are in this chapter. Verse two says, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Verse five says: "For each one shall bear his own burden." The third passage is in Psalm 55:22 "Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you." One can readily see the ministry of grace comes from the Father and flows through the true believer for the purpose of burden lifting and restoration. Does it flow through you?

The gifts of the Spirit are called grace gifts. They are meant to elevate, console, reach out, bring up, RESTORE.
Self-deception stops the flow of grace in a person's life (Gal. 6:3, 4 and Gal. 6:7, 8).

Grace ministry requires a fellowship of sharing (Gal. 6:6).

Grace ministry requires sowing to the Spirit (Gal 6:8).
Grace ministry is a continual "doing of good" to all God brings ones way and even more to others of the household of faith (Gal. 6:.19).

Looking Good
A summary brings the epistle to a close. It ends Paul's first attempt at writing. He restates Galatians 2:20, reiterates his stand on the Law and ends with a blessing. Notice in the last verse the use of that word you no longer "glide past:" Grace.
Gal 6:11-18
See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!
12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Notice also the indictment, "many (as) desire to make a good showing in the flesh." If that doesn't characterize a "graceless ministry" nothing does!

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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