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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Sat, May 30, 1998

4 - Faith Alone, The Barrier

Galatians 1:6-10 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:59 mins 19 secs

Faith Alone; The Barrier; Gal. 1:6-10

 

Even though these Galatians had deserted God, God had not deserted them. They were given salvation as a permanent gift although they had no longer understood the grace of Christ. There are two ways in which the gospel generally or God's plan is attacked. Number one is at salvation something is always added: faith plus. But whenever you have faith plus anything it equals nothing. You destroy faith when you add anything to it. There is always this attempt to add good works, baptism, church attendance, that somehow we are going to impress God. But Jesus does it all; all we have to do is accept it by faith, which is a non-meritorious response. Faith is non-meritorious because faith in and of itself has no merit. Anybody can believe. It is faith alone in Christ alone. The second way God's plan is attacked is an outgrowth of the gospel. In many passages the gospel includes more than simple salvation, it also includes the Christian life. In the Christian life there is the process of sanctification and the attack is the idea that somehow our spiritual life is the result of works. We will get to that is the second half of this epistle. But Paul is writing to say that God does all the work. The issue is salvation and in the Christian life is always faith alone; it is not by performing works. It is not up to us, it is not the work of the flesh that is what produces our spiritual growth; it is the grace provision of God and all of the assets that He gives us at the moment of salvation.

 

A central passage to understand the gospel is 1 Corinthians 15:1, 2 NASB "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain." By holding fast he means that at the moment in time when they heard the gospel they accepted it. The word that he preached was the simple gospel; it doesn't mean that they have to continue believing in order to be saved. Belief is a one-shot decision. Believing in vain means to believe the wrong thing. It is amazing how many people believe the wrong thing. Faith has an object; it is the object of faith that saves. What is the object? The object of faith is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our salvation. All we have to do is believe that Jesus died for us and rose again and we have eternal life. That's it. [3,4] "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."

 

That is the gospel. Two elements are recorded: a) Christ's death as a substitute for our sins; b) the bodily resurrection of Christ. That is the same message—the emphasis on Christ's substitutionary atonement and the resurrection—that Paul proclaimed in Acts 13 on his first missionary journey when he went to the Gentiles in Galatia. That makes the gospel very clear and we always have to emphasise that grace means that it is a free gift; we do nothing to earn or deserve it. Revelation 22:17 NASB "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." There is absolutely no cost to it, it is a free gift.

 

Galatians 1:6, 7 NASB "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is {really} not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ." The Greek word for "different" is heteros [e(teroj]; the Greek word for "another" is allos [a)lloj]. They have slightly different meanings; sometimes they are almost synonymous. But in passages where the two are used together there is a difference. heteros tends to emphasise something that is another of a different kind; allos means another of the same kind. So what we find here is the statement that "you have deserted him who called you by the grace of Christ for a gospel of a radically different kind." E.g. accepting Christ as your saviour is not synonymous with inviting Jesus into your heart, which is a misapplication of Revelation 3:20. The Scripture says that He is the one who invites you—"Him who called you."

 

There is always a disruptive crowd in any local church at one time or another because Satan is always out to destroy the gospel. That is his number one mission, to keep unbelievers from hearing the gospel—so he is going to block the gospel, distort it, distract—and keep believers from understanding the implications of the gospel for their spiritual life in pursuing spiritual maturity. As part of this Satan uses his people to try to disrupt and distract local congregations that are teaching the truth. The ones "disturbing," tarasso [tarassw], present active participle. The present tense means that it is basically an extending from the past present. That means it is referring to action that started in the past and is continuing through the present time of writing. It is an active voice, which means the subject is performing the action of the participle. In this case it is the Judaizers who are performing the action. These are a group of Jews who are emphasizing works as part of salvation; the works of the Law. So they are adding the works of the Law to salvation. They are disturbing, stirring up trouble.

 

With the word "wishing" we have another participle. It is the present active participle of thelontes [qelontej] from the main verb thelo [qelw] which means to will, or to want to do something. This verb emphasises their volition. They have an agenda. They specifically have a goal and that is to distract people from the truth. Their negative volition has rejected the gospel of grace, yet they are probably talking about grace. Some groups talk about grace but they restrict its meaning and say you have to earn the grace. All kinds of people talk about grace but very few understand grace.

 

The Greek word for "distort" is metastrepho [metastrefw] which means to change or transform. They want to transform the gospel from the gospel of grace into a gospel of works. The word thelo emphasises that they are responsible for this, it is their volition that is involved. Ultimately behind them is Satan. 2 Corinthians 4:4 NASB "in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." This is Satan's agenda.

 

Hoe does Satan blind men today? One way is through religion. True biblical Christianity is not a religion. A religion means that man does the work and then God blesses it, whereas Christianity is a relationship with God because it is based upon the fact that Jesus Christ did the work—God does all the work and man simply accepts it. One the basis of the work of Christ man is able to have a personal relationship with God that is not based on a series of rituals, a series of commandments, or a series of taboos. What man always wants to do is somehow come up with rituals or some kind of legalistic rules and regulations in order to impress God and have some kind of assurance of eternal destiny.

 

A second way Satan blinds men is through rationalism, through reason. This is what happened in the 19th century Protestant liberalism. The idea was that if man's intellectual powers are so great then we can then evaluate the Bible to find out what is false just on the basis of our intellect.

 

Third, and very prominent today, Satan distracts people from the gospel through emotionalism, especially through the subjectivity of a lot of mysticism—How do you know God? Because I feel it. We know Him through the Word, not because of our feelings.

 

Satan uses all the details of life—materialism details, the details of work, the details of relationships, the details of pleasure. All of these things get in the way when people are more consumed with living their lives, enjoying their lives and the pleasures, and dealing with the problems, their adversities, their heartaches, their careers. They don't have time for God.

 

"the gospel of Christ" – here we have a genitive of source. Jesus Christ is the one who provided salvation at the cross. When he went to the cross every sin in human history was poured out upon Him and judged.                               

 

Galatians 1:8 NASB "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" He uses a figure of speech here called hyperbole, which means exaggeration. He is going to go to the farthest extent, the greatest use of exaggeration to make his point. He doesn't mean by this that an angel is ever going to proclaim the gospel, that would be a false concept to derive from this. He is saying that even if this were the case, even the most extreme case that could ever be imagined, even under those circumstances if they were to hear the gospel from angels or anyone else other than what we proclaim to you then it would be a false gospel. What Paul has been proclaiming to them is the absolute truth. The Greek word for "accursed" is anathema [a)naqema], an incredibly strong word for cursing. This is serious. The gospel is the most important issue in life.

 

Man was created in the garden of Eden and was given a test of his volition. That test was very simply and it involved a tree—the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This issue was whether man would obey God and not eat from the tree or whether he would disobey God. At that time there was harmonious rapport between God and man. However long the man and the woman lived in the garden they continued to obey God. Then Satan came along and tempted the woman first, perceiving that she was the weak link on the chain, and she succumbed to the temptation and ate of the fruit. She tempted the man and he succumbed and they went negative to God, disobeyed Him, and a barrier was erected between God and man. So when God came to walk in the garden with the man and the woman, as He did every day, the man and the woman ran and hid.

 

The barrier

 

This barrier that is erected is comprised of several different ingredients which we will just call bricks. The first is the problem of sin itself. Romans 3:23 NASB "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Every human being is a sinner and cannot measure up to God's standard. Isaiah 64:6 NASB "…all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment." Our sin prevents us from having any kind of relationship with God.

 

The next brick in the barrier has to do with the penalty of sin, which is spiritual death. Romans 6:23 NASB "For the wages of sin is death…" Spiritual death is eternal separation from God.

 

The third brick in the barrier has to do with our physical birth. We are born in Adam. Adam was both our federal head, i.e. he is a representative—"In Adam all die"—and our genetic head, so that we are physically, biologically related to Adam so that the consequences of sin which affected everything in nature make us all guilty of Adam's sin, both federally and spiritually. Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:1, "being born dead in our trespasses and sins. So the problem is that in our physical birth we are born spiritually dead. Isaiah 64:6a; Romans 9:30-33; Romans 2—"there is none that doeth good, no, not one."

 

The fourth brick in the barrier is relative righteousness. As far as the Word of God is concerned there is not a single human being who can measure up to the perfect righteous standard of God. God is both perfect righteousness and perfect justice. The righteousness of God is His absolute standard; the justice of God is the application of that standard. Whatever the righteousness of God demands the justice of God provides. What the righteousness of God rejects the justice of God condemns, but the love of God provides a solution through the grace of God. What the righteousness of God approves the justice of God blesses through the love of God as expressed through the grace of God. So God's righteousness is His perfect standard. Because man cannot come up with that perfect standard of God he stands condemned, so he has the problem of relative righteousness.

 

The fifth brick in the barrier has to do with the character of God, as just explained. Because God is perfect righteousness and perfect justice man cannot measure up to God and therefore stands condemned.

 

The sixth brick is our position in Adam. 1 Corinthians 15:22 NASB "For as in Adam all die…"

 

This is our problem, the sin barrier which is erected between God and man. God in His grace provided a perfect solution to every aspect of the sin problem. These are the doctrines related to salvation. The sin problem was taken care of by the doctrines of redemption and unlimited atonement. The basic idea of redemption is that a price is paid. Redemption means to pay a price. It translates the Greek word agorazo [a)gorazw] which has to do with buying something in the market place. The agora was the Greek name for the market place. Another word is exagorazo [e)cagorazw] which means to buy something out of the market place. Redemption passages: Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18, 19. Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and he purchased us our of the slave market of sin. That is redemption.

 

Unlimited atonement means that the extent of that redemption applies to every single human being. Jesus Christ actually removed the problem of sin. Every sin is paid for, so the issue is no longer is: Are you going to pay for your sins? The issue is: Are you going to accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour? The issue at the great white throne judgment is not sin. God is never going to bring sins up to you or me again at the judgment seat of Christ; at the great white throne judgment the issue is not sin, it is human good, it is whether man's good deeds have measured up to the perfect righteousness of God. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for every single sin that the human race will ever commit. 1 John 2:2 NASB "and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for {those of} the whole world." 2 Corinthians 5:14 NASB "For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died." 1 Timothy 4:10 NASB "For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers."

 

The penalty of sin was taken care of by the doctrine of expiation. Expiation means to remove a debt. We have a debt against us because of our sin. Colossians 2:14 NASB "having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."

 

The problem of physical birth is resolved by regeneration. John 3:1-18. We were born spiritually dead and at the moment of salvation God the Holy Spirit creates a human spirit, it is simultaneously given to us, and at that moment God the Father imputes to that human spirit eternal life. So we have a new life in Christ.

 

The problem of our relative righteousness is dealt with by the doctrine of the imputation of perfect righteousness. Imputation means to credit or legally declare as one's possession perfect righteousness. 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21. Because we now possess the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ God the Father declares us just, justified. Justification does not mean just as if I had never sinned; it means we are justified by God, declared righteous or just because we possess the perfect righteousness of God.

 

The character of God problem is resolved by the doctrine of propitiation. Propitiation means that God the Father is satisfied—His perfect righteousness and justice are satisfied. What the righteousness of God rejects the justice of God condemns. But when we possess the perfect righteousness of God—what righteousness of God approves now, because we have His perfect righteousness—the justice of God can bless with eternal life. Romans 3:22-26; 1 John 2:2. Verses for justification are Romans 4:1-5; Galatians 2:16.

 

The problem of our position in Adam is resolved by our new position in Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:22b NASB "…so also in Christ all will be made alive." At the moment we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ then through the baptism of the Holy Spirit we are placed in union with Jesus Christ.

 

All of this is part of the gospel. As we can see from this, so much was performed by Jesus Christ on the cross that to think that we could add anything to it is absolutely absurd. That is why Paul is so harsh with these Galatian believers, because if you add anything to faith alone it destroys salvation.

 

Galatians 1:9 NASB "As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!" He repeats it for emphasis. He is not being emotional, he wants to make it very clear that they get the point.

 

Galatians 1:10 NASB "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men [and I'm not], I would not be a bond-servant of Christ." He tells them that they have been saying that he is just out there trying to please people with this gospel of grace, that he is teaching it because it makes it easy for people. But he just blisters them. "Am I trying to please men?" The point that Paul is making here is that he is not trying to curry any favour with them. The point is that a pastor is either trying to seek the approbation of men or to serve Christ. There is no other option.