E-Mail Bible Class
BC Weekly Digest Monday, November 22 1999 In this issue: Galatians 5:1-6 Galatians 5:6 Galatians 5:7-12 Galatians 5:1-6 Galatians 5:1-6 (ASV) 1 For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage. 2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love. Comments by Howard Justice *5:1 "For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage." Yes, indeed! We are made free from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ that was so willingly shed for the sins of the world. But the disclaimer here is that we must have an obedient faith in order to access the grace of God. No, salvation does not come through works only, but through our faith; our OBEDIENT faith, in Christ. "And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing [unto him]; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that seek after him" (Hebrews 11:6 ASV). In James 2:26, James states: "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead" (ASV). From this passage we see that we must have both the grace of God (in the form of the shed blood of Christ Jesus) along with works of faith. God has elected to save us by His grace in conjunction with our works of faith. It must be a combination of the two. And, the only way to access God's Grace is through faith, repentance, confession and baptism. It is then, and only then, that we are made free from the "death warrant" of sin. See also Romans 6:1-6. *5:2 "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing." Why would this circumcision be of no effect? Because God had chosen to send a better sacrifice for sin, one that would serve to erase permanently the sins of all who would believe on Him (John 1:12; 3:16). This cutting off of the foreskin, under the Mosaic dispensation, certified that a Hebrew male was indeed a Jew in both the eyes of men and of God. In Colossians 2: 10-14, Paul notes: "and in Him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power: in whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead." The above passage in Colossians clearly explains that baptism (a burial in water) replaced the circumcision of the law of Moses. For we are no longer under the Law of Moses but under the Law of Christ. In Romans 10:4, Paul tells us that Christ is the end (the termination) of the law to everyone who believes in Christ. We are under the law of Christ. *5:3 "Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law." There could be no stronger statement than this. It is a condemnation of all those who presently hold to the observance of the law of Moses. This statement denies the applicability of the Ten Commandments today as a legal code. We are no longer under that law. We have a more perfect law in the reign of Christ. Every person who holds to the observance of the Ten Commandments is a debtor to keep the entire Law of Moses, including animal sacrifices, holy days, etc. There can be no other way; either keep the Law of Moses and be lost without the grace of God or keep the law of Christ and be saved eternally. *5:4 "Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace." Here is the final nail in the coffin of the "Sabbatarians" of today. This verse states that those who believe they must keep the Law of Moses to be saved, either in part by keeping the ordinances of the Ten Commandments or by observing the entire Law of Moses, are going to be lost without the grace of God. Here were men and women who had obeyed the gospel, yet had followed after the wisdom of men (through their acceptance of certain Jewish laws and customs) and had indeed "fallen from grace." *5:5 "For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness." We, namely, those of us who have obeyed from the heart "that form of doctrine" to which we were delivered (Romans 6:17), now patiently wait in our faith with the hope of righteousness. We know that we have been accounted as righteous, like Abraham. For we have the assurance of God that we WILL be accounted as righteous if we keep His commandments (John 14:15,21). In 1 John 3:7, John states: "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." *5:6 "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love." Here then is the key to understanding what faith is and what it requires of us. It is not simply the acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God. It is not the reciting of the "sinner's prayer" as some espouse, nor is it simply saying, "Jesus, save me." It is the TOTAL commitment of one's life to the service of God and it certainly includes doing that which we have been commanded to do to be saved. We have no other hope than that. Ephesians 1:11-14 tells us about that great hope: "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." Amen. Howard Justice ------------------------------ Galatians 5:6 Galatians 5:6 (ASV) "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision: but faith working through love." Comments by J Lee Roberts Not all belief is a faith that affords access to God's approval or the saving power of Christ's sacrifice. Several scriptural passages give examples of dead or worthless faith. As James declares ' faith without appropriate deeds is dead ' - and apparently this was the belief of demons ( Read James 2:18-26 ). The apostle Paul gives an example of dead faith in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, stating that a tremendously active faith, one that could move mountains, is worthless when it is improperly motivated. Such great faith, without love, is useless for salvation. Another case is described by John where certain Jewish leaders believed in Christ, but motivated by fear, they would not make an open confession of their faith in Him ( John 12:42,43 ). Twice in his epistles Paul writes that acceptable obedience to the message of the Cross must be done in love - in Romans 6:1-18, he states that the proper response to the teaching of baptism into Christ's death is ' obedience from the heart '. He insists again in Galatians 5:6 that the thing that really counts is ' faith working through love.' When the writer of Hebrews defines faith, he begins by affirming that acceptable faith must recognize God as the author of all creation - creating verything by His Word from what is not seen ( Hebrews 11:1-3 )! He then adds in verse 6 that one must certainly recognize the existence of God and that He intervenes in our lives to reward those that sincerely seek Him. Certainly those people who were approved by God for their faith in Hebrews chapter 11 are those who were seeking the Lord and obeyed Him in faith and love with no thought of 'earning' His approval ! Their lives embodied ' faith working through love '. J Lee Roberts ------------------------------ Galatians 5:7-12 Galatians 5:7-12 (ASV) 7 Ye were running well; who hindered you that ye should not obey the truth? 8 This persuasion [came] not of him that calleth you. 9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. 10 I have confidence to you-ward in the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. 11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? then hath the stumbling-block of the cross been done away. 12 I would that they that unsettle you would even go beyond circumcision. Comments by Howard Justice *5:7 "Ye were running well; who hindered you that ye should not obey the truth?" Paul's simple question, after condemning the false teachers among them was to ask, "Who has caused you to regress toward sin?" Departing from the truth is just as much a sin as adultery, coveting, theft, etc. In Luke 9:62, Jesus stated, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." The implication here is that any convert who once turns back toward a life of sin becomes unfit, in his current condition, to be called a child of God or to inhabit the heavenly abode. It requires a total and permanent change to qualify one's habitation in the family of God. *5:8 "This persuasion came not of him that calleth you." Rest assured, the call back toward sin is not from God, but from Satan. It is just one of the many ways that the devil tries to regain a foothold in the soul of man. We must always be on our guard, every moment, every day of our lives. When faced with any dilemma, let us always ask ourselves, "What would Jesus do?" Then let us do it with all our hearts! *5:9 "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." Leaven has been used many times to infer sin. In the New Testament, it is used in eleven passages. Nine times, it is meant to represent either false teaching or sin. There is a beautiful allegory in the Old Testament where God told the Israelites who were fleeing from Egypt to leave all leaven behind. Of course, this was because they didn't have time to prepare any leavened bread since they left the next day after the death angel came. Leaven was to be omitted from the sacrificial feasts of the Mosaic dispensation. It was not used on the night that the Lord's Supper was instituted. The more that I study this word, the more I am convinced that it is because leaven was used to represent sin. Leaven itself utilizes a "spoiling" function to cause bread to rise just as sin "spoils" the soul and causes us to be "puffed up" toward that which is pure and good. See 1 Cor. 13:4. *5:10 "I have confidence to you-ward in the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be." Here, Paul encourages them to return by chiding them about their devotion to God. It is the same as what we use with our own children when we "guide" them into righteous behavior. He then turns his attention toward those who have ship- wrecked their souls by stating that they would bear the burden of guilt for their false teaching. I can think of no greater guilt than to have drawn someone away from the truth through lies and hypocrisy. Certainly they who do such will bear great responsibility for many other souls in the after-life. This warning here should make us all think seriously about exactly what we teach and preach. We should be very careful to not be found going beyond what is required by God, either in doctrine or practice. *5:11 "But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? then hath the stumbling-block of the cross been done away." In city after city where Paul preached the Gospel, the Jews were often those who instigated persecution against him. If the Gospel included subjection to the Law of Moses, why should the Jews persecute him? *5:12 "I would that they that unsettle you would even go beyond circumcision." The meaning here is rather elusive in the ASV translation but I believe that Paul is stating that he wished, in light of the trouble they had caused, that these Judaizing false teachers would simply amputate themselves from the local assemblies, go on back to complete Judaism and stop interfering with the spiritual growth of these former Gentiles. Some commentators here seem to think that he wishes that they were cut off from the church. Of course, God would have certainly cast them out already. To cast them out, locally, would have required action by each local assembly, as in 1 Corinthians 5:1-6. The New Testament church has no ecclesiastical hierarchy which acts here on this earth for the body of Christ. Each congregation has the responsibility to correct and expel false teachers and other impenitent sinners within its midst. Howard Justice.