Wednesday, June 8, 2016, 4:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Believe Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 1:1-10 (ESV).
Not from Men (vv. 1-2a)
Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me…
Not many professing ministers of the gospel today in America could say this, it would appear. So many, many of them are following their human trainers and books (or courses) on how to grow their churches, i.e. their businesses, over or in place of Jesus Christ. They are relying on the wisdom and counsel of humankind over the Word of God, and over the leading and witness of the Holy Spirit. Entertainment has become the focus of what is commonly referred to as a “worship service.” And, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been diluted to make it more palatable and acceptable to the world. It appears that those who stand on the Word of God and who get their wisdom and messages from the Lord, rather than from humans, are becoming more and more rare.
Yet, all of us who are believers in Jesus Christ are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to us by the Lord Jesus to guide, lead, counsel, teach, instruct, convict, encourage, strengthen and empower us in the faith and in our witness for Jesus Christ. It is also the Holy Spirit who gives us spiritual gifts to be used for the edification and building up of the body of Christ. And, it is God who assigns each one of us our roles (parts) within the body of Christ, which we are to fill for the encouragement and strengthening of Christ’s body, his church. So, we are to get our direction, teaching and assignments from God, and not from men. And, we are to follow Jesus and his Spirit’s leading in doing and saying what God directs, and in being who God wants us to be. Our primary teaching, as well, should come straight from God’s word and not from books written by mere humans.
To Deliver Us (vv. 2b-5)
To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
So many professing ministers of the gospel are also teaching a gospel message absent of the cross of Christ in the life of the individual believer. They are teaching their followers that they don’t have to repent (turn from sin), and that they don’t have to obey Christ and his commandments, even though the NT books teach that we must. Basically, what they are teaching people is that faith in Jesus Christ gets them out of hell and into heaven when they die, but they are not teaching them that Jesus died that they might die to sin and live to righteousness. They are not teaching that he died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And, they are not teaching that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk (conduct our lives) not after the flesh, but who walk according to the Spirit (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14).
Yet, Paul makes it clear here that Jesus died on a cross for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age. In other words, he came to deliver us not only from the curse of sin, but also from the control and influence of sin over our lives. He died so that we would no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but so we would be transformed in heart and mind away from living to sin and self to living for God and to walking in his holiness and righteousness. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin and self), we will gain eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Ro. 8:1-14). He said his sheep listen to his voice and they follow (obey) him (See: Jn. 10:27-30).
A Different Gospel (vv. 6-9)
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
The manner in which the gospel was being distorted among the Galatians was that there was a group of people who were trying to bring Christians under or back under the rule of law of the Old Covenant. More specifically, to the best of my understanding, they were trying to instruct them that they had to be circumcised and practice Jewish religious rites and follow some of their customs and/or participate in some of their religious festivals. And, they were requiring that they do this in order to be saved, so they were adding to the gospel of Jesus Christ what God did not require of followers of Christ.
I believe we have the opposite problem these days. I believe the way the gospel is being distorted today is in the removal of critical components of our faith and salvation, as required by God/Jesus for our salvation and eternal life, and to do so in order to appeal to human flesh and to teach a broad road to heaven rather than the narrow road that Jesus taught. Yes, it is by God’s grace that we are saved, through faith, and this not from ourselves – not of human works lest any of us should boast (See: Eph. 2:8-9). Yet, it is also true that Jesus taught repentance for forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God. As well, it is true that he and his NT apostles taught that if we continue living sinful lifestyles, and/or if we do not obey Jesus Christ and his Word, we don’t know God, and we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God – although they did not demand sinless perfection.
So, we need to make certain that the gospel message we are hearing and receiving is the one Jesus and his NT apostles taught. This means that we need to search the scriptures for ourselves and see what was taught, instead of following the teachings of humans who often hand-select the scriptures that fit with their philosophy while ignoring the bulk of teachings which don’t agree with their lifestyles. And, this means that we need to read all of them in context, and compare scripture with scripture so that we are not guilty of taking scripture out of context and of making it say what we want it to say in order to fit with our own chosen lifestyles. In other words, we need to be seekers of truth, and be willing to obey what the Lord teaches us, and not try to fit God and his Word into our own lifestyles.
Whose Approval? (v. 10)
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
This is really the bottom line of it all. Are we living to please ourselves and other humans, or are we living our lives to please Christ in all that we do and say? Do we make decisions in our lives based on human approval, or on God’s approval? Do we ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit out of fear that we will be rejected, or are we willing to be persecuted for our faith in order to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience to his will for our lives? Do we live in fear of what humans may do to us, or are we walking in the fear of the Lord? Do we allow our circumstances to dictate our actions, or do we walk by faith, believing God in all things, even when our circumstances are questionable or it looks like all is going to fail?
Jesus is asking us to trust him fully with our lives and with our circumstances. He wants us to believe him, and what his word teaches us. And, he is asking us to live our lives to please him, and not ourselves or other humans, even if it means we are mistreated in return. He has a plan and a purpose for our lives, and he will work out all things for our good. We just need to submit to him and surrender our lives to him, and walk in his truth, in his love, and in obedience to his instructions. A saved life is a crucified life. It is a surrendered life to God.
Believe Him / An Original Work / July 15, 2013
My heart cries: Lord, won’t You hear me
Seeking You for the answers
To my heartache and questions
I have concerning my life?
Speak, Lord, to me right now.
“Oh, dear one, why don’t you trust Me
With your life’s circumstances?
Give your all on the altar
In submission of your will
To My purpose for you.
“Surrender your life completely
To your Lord and your Savior.
He has all things planned for you
For His glory and honor.
He’ll work all things for good.
“Believe Him. He will fulfill all
Of His promises to you
For your life and your future.
Trust Him. Rest in His love.
He’ll give you peace from above.”