THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 1-12-2003
LESSON TITLE: TO THE CHURCHES OF GALATIA: "AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK"
Good morning and welcome to the Living Word program on this wondrous Lord's Day morning! Thank you for joining us today as we commit this time to the things of God. Together we will have the privilege to study from God's Holy Word and to sing praises to His wonderful name. Let's each do our part this morning in making this time of offering acceptable in His sight. Will you bow with me in prayer at this time?
Our young people often sing, "Heaven is a wonderful place," and oh how true this fact is. Our first song of the morning reminds us of a place that has been prepared for us that now just sits empty awaiting our arrival. Furthermore, the place that has been made ready is referred to as a mansion. So, won't you join in our first song of the morning as we sing about this wonderful promise that is just waiting for us, the name of the song, "An Empty Mansion."
(SONG # 1)
There this prophet foretells the great sacrifice of Christ, to those who would never actually know the savior. There he says, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed."
How often do we forget today the great sacrifice that Christ fulfilled for us by going to the cross? Consider the facts mentioned in the verse we just read, "He was wounded for us." Think of the suffering that Christ endured on the cross. This suffering was physical and agonizing, even to the point of having thorns pressed on his head and a spear being pierced in His side.
Isaiah further went on to say that He was "bruised for our sins." Remember back in Genesis when Moses recorded that the serpent would bruise His head. Christ was put in the grave and suffered death due to our infirmities. However, He also crushed the head of Satan, when He conquered death by raising from the dead.
The peace, hope, and salvation that He brought us was only possible through His punishment and sacrifice. Thus, Isaiah finished his thoughts with, "by His stripes we are healed." We often forget that even before Christ suffered the ultimate sacrifice on the cross, He was beaten, spat upon, and cursed by God's own people.
What a wondrous and great sacrifice Christ made for each of us. May we never forget that it is only because of His perfect sacrifice that we are able today, to know Him and to become obedient to His will. It was the Hebrew writer that said, "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Jesus Christ, our savior, is the one who completed our faith through the things that He suffered. When was the last time you thanked God and His Son for this great sacrifice made for all of us. May we all take more time to realize what has truly been done for us and may we also use this as motivation to make us better servants in His Kingdom.
Today, we will begin a new series and we are going to try something a little different. As most of your know, we usually run topic type series on the program and have covered a lot of information over the years on the life of a child of God.
What we would like to do for the next few months is to engage in a textual study from God's Word. In other words, going straight to the source of all wisdom and knowledge and considering what it has to say to us as followers in this day and time.
I have chosen the book of Galatians for our study and basically plan to draw important lessons from each chapter of this book, on a weekly basis. Our first lesson this morning will deal with "An Introduction to the Book," as we begin this new series entitled, "To The Churches of Galatia!" I look forward to this new study together and will return with this first lesson in the series after our next song. So, won't you join in with the brethren at this time as we sing the song, "Anywhere With Jesus."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
In Galatians chapter 1 and verse 2, the statement is made to the churches of Galatia. I'm excited about our new study as we now begin looking at the book of Galatians in the Bible, the New Testament that you and I are under today as Christians, as those followers of Christ Jesus, under the new law. I think the only problem we might have with our study is trying to fit so much information into each lesson as we go on a week by week basis and we look at a chapter a week. There is so much information for the child of God in this book that really it is pertinent to us as we might follow the Will of God and do what He has asked us to. But still what we would like to do is just in a brief a way as we can to cover these issues from a very Biblical and strong standpoint so that we know what God does expect, what He wants and what He has told us through this inspired writer.
If you basically look at a little background of the book, we find that there's a lot of confusion here by some of those who wanted to follow Christ that they could keep and hold on to some of the old practices of Judaism. In fact, one of the biggest issues that we'll begin to see unfolding in our lessons is the fact that the Jews primarily wanted to somehow enforce many of the old rituals and things of the old law like circumsion on even the Gentiles. In other words, they would have one to proclaim that instead of just one obeying and being baptized unto salvation, that they should also be circumcized to be saved before God. But we see that the writer here of Galatians, this book here, helps us to clarify that really that is not the case. That's not at all what God intended and really he helps us to see that the old things really had been put away. They had been passed through history so that the new law, the new covenant had been enacted through Christ Jesus and the great shedding of His blood.
But this morning, we want to begin by looking at the introduction to this book. We're going to see not only some of the ideas that we'll be covering over the next several weeks together but also want to see some details and really some fundamental concepts and information, if you will, about this book that will help us to better know not only who the writer was but who it was written to and some of the purposes that it was written and really what it was written to accomplish and the end results.
First of all then, I might ask you the question, "Who wrote the book?" If you look really not only in the book itself but really just at external evidences which means those things outside of the Bible itself, we see that everyone basically, historians and those of old alike, those who were early on historians even after the books themselves had been written, even there in the first and second century do give credit to Paul. In other words, those men that might have been familiar to some individuals like Clement of Rome, Palicarp, Ignatius and others. All claim that yes, Paul was the author. But now, we can go internally which means we can go inside the book, the internal evidences are also very clear in the fact that Paul is the writer. In fact, if you'll go to chapter 1 and look at verse 1, it says that "Paul an apostle, not from men nor through men, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead." Here we see the writer claiming to be number 1, Paul, and secondly, an apostle. Now I don't know about you but there's no other apostle Paul that is evidenced in scripture and proven to us other than the great apostle Paul, the man who is responsible for giving us the majority of New Testament works that help us today to know exactly what it is that Jesus Christ would have us to do. So yes, the writer was Paul. And not only Paul, but really Paul in verse 2 says "he was not alone and that all the brethren who are with me greet you, the churches of Galatia." So he and others as they were wanting to send their love and recommendations and encouragements and their excertations, they did this it seems collectively, first of all from Paul and then all of those with him sending along the same emphasis through the gift of the spirit and the knowledge that God had given them.
If you look over in chapter 5, we find the very same thing. In fact, verse 2 tells us that "Indeed I, Paul, say to you..." There again, we have it evidenced in the scripture itself. Internally, the internal evidence claims that I, Paul, am writing. So there really isn't a whole lot of discourse or disagreement on Paul being the author and because of that it is easy for us to readily admit and really accept the fact that truly Paul is the author of this book.
Who was it written to? Well the easy answer has first been given and that is the fact that it was written to the Galatians. Not only just the Galatians as maybe just a whole but really to be more specific the churches of Galatia. Not only was it to just one group or a few different groups, but really was intended that all the churches in the area of Galatia might be able to receive this letter and be encouraged through it to know more about what God would have each and every one of them to do. In fact, if you were really to consider who it was written to specifically as far as individuals, we see a lot of different characteristics in the book. We see characteristics that would be very helpful to the Gentile. In other words, someone who doesn't know a lot about the old law, but someone who needs to know that he doesn't have to be circumsized. Yes, things written to the Gentile. And then again, things that were written primarily with the Jew in mind, that really even the Jews as they were following the old law should put those things away and understand that now they have freedom in Christ Jesus. Yes, it was written to the churches of Galatia. Secondly, it was written to both Jew and Gentile Christians alike to deal with them and to help them in the things of Christ, again primarily in this issue of understanding the differences between the old and new law and the fact that primarily the old had been replaced with the new and the old was no longer binding upon those who used to follow it again, that is the Jewish people or the Hebrew people of God.
If you were to think about when this book was written, we might have several ideas once again. It doesn't seem that the scholars are really all together in coherency and acceptance as far as the date itself, but within ten to fifteen years they all agree that somewhere around 50 AD, after the beginning of the Lord's Church. His birth being somewhere around 0 where our numbers start there after His death. And then we have again around the 50's period this book being written by this man, Paul, as we know that Paul had made journeys to Galatia. In fact, you might remember that even in the first missionary journey with Barnabus, he had journeyed to this region of Galatia, and again with Silas and in the next missionary journey, he went to the areas of Galatia and which area he specifically and most likely he was going to the area of the southern region of Galatia. Why we don't have a lot of information sometimes given about those things that were up in the north, or those churches that may have been in the north, but rather his journeys showing a progression through the more southern areas, the more southern places in this province again that we would refer to as Galatia in Bible times.
Again with these things in mind and as we think about what scholars in the past have told us, they again would concur to the fact that not only was this written to the churches of Galatia but also to Jews and Gentiles alike, those who were striving to follow Christ but dealing with some struggles between the old and the new laws, but at the same time around 50 AD trying to encourage those who needed to know more about God and more about His Will and what they should do and there primarily in the southern areas that truly, truly that God was there for them and willing to accomplish all that He could through them if they would turn themselves over to Jesus Christ and to His law, to the things that would again show Him to be the Master, the Prince of Peace and the Lord of Lords.
In fact again, one verse that I might just bring out to really help us again in understanding these things is the concept brought forth in Galatians chapter 3. You might remember this familiar verse there in verse 27 that talks about how that we put on Christ through baptism, not the old law or Moses, but we put on Christ. In fact, the verse before that, verse 26, talks about how that we are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. So again, I think we can clearly see that as we outline what the writer here was trying to accomplish. Remember, the writer being inspired of God, inspired of the Holy Spirit, breathed through him that he as he wrote these individuals in the churches of Galatia was trying to help them understand more purely what it was that Jesus Christ wanted of them and to reiterate in their minds and hearts that truly they were under God and they were under primarily again Jesus Christ and the new law and really not under those things of old.
Now we might just look at some other concepts and ideas in our remaining minutes about truly what this book was written for. There were again many ideas and again as I've said what we'd like to do over the next many weeks together is look at a chapter each week and we'll be bringing a lot of these things out in more detail, but I thought it would be good for us just to begin to take a glimpse of the issues such as circumsion that we've already talked about. What were the things in that day that they were dealing with that were plaguing the brethren that were sometimes tearing them apart and keeping them from really being able to be all that they should be in the work of the Lord and in the work of Jesus Christ?
One thing that I might mention again is the concept of those who are often referred to as Judaisers. Now we've already mentioned the Jews primarily to enforce the concepts of circumsion. But really it went much deeper than that. Some of them were even trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. In fact, the very first chapter that we'll deal with in detail next week deals with over and over this concept that there is one gospel and that there should be no other and if there is anyone who preaches or teaches a different gospel should be accursed. Now, what would this message have meant in that day and time? Well it would have meant to those Jews who were following the gospel in the areas that they wanted, but trying to add to the gospel. It would show us that those who were Judaisers that were wanting to keep a lot of the Jewish things in the following of Christ, that they were wrong and that really the gospel that Christ gave was one that was truly in relationship to what God had designed. Not man. Not the Jews themselves or the Hebrews or the things of old. But what Christ had designed according to the Will of the Father. Those things that had been revealed to God, or from God to the followers, again through this servant, this special servant, Paul, Paul the evangelist, Paul the man of God.
Another great lesson that we might notice here is not only again the fact that there were many of the Jewish Christians that were trying to hold on to a lot of the old ways, hold on to the law of Moses, but also the fact that as they were under the new law, that they should be those that now shared in and had the spirit of Christ. I might just remind you there in the book of Galatians chapter 5, we have what are referred to as the fruits of the flesh and of the spirit and in these things, we see here that a follower of God should participate in and really be involved in to really be accepted before their Creator. So with this in mind, we see the law of Christ, the perfect law of liberty, the concepts again about what is in Christ Jesus and His spirit and His sealing through the blood, the faith that is in Him not in the things of old, not in the things of Moses again but the things that are in Him. Yes, we see again the need that they had to be followers of a different and more better covenant, as the Hebrew writer deals with so much through his writings.
Another idea that we'll be able to investigate and study together is the concept that yes, someone can fall from grace. In fact, some of the admonitions that were being given such as in Galatians chapter 5 and verse 4 really indicated the fact that many of them who were rejecting over and over and over the gospel that had been delivered and revealed once, the one gospel that should not be added to or taken away from, anyone who did contrary to or took away would be what? Those who were considered to be outside of Christ, those who would be considered as those who had fallen from grace. In fact, a verse I might have to help you with that is in chapter 5 again but verse 4. He says there, "You have become estranged from Christ. You who attempt to be justified by the law and you have fallen from grace." Now what does that statement tell you? It tells me that one can fall. That someone can be in Christ and then someone can fall away from Christ.
Not only this but we see furthermore the concepts of sowing and how that "we will reap according to the things that we sow," Galatians 6 and verses 6 and following. We see great spiritual blessings that are mentioned in Christ Jesus through the salvation, the baptism and those things that He has given us because we become children of God, sons of God, as the verses tell us. It tells us how that we are in the body of Christ and how that we are to follow the great privilege of doctrine that He has presented to us and how that a man of God is no longer alone but really will be able to overcome all enemies through the help of Christ Jesus. On and on we could go and as we continue in our study, I hope you will stay with us on a weekly basis so that we might look further at what this inspired man, Paul, had to say from the mouth of God to encourage us as well as those in Galatia so that they could do all that they could to make their God proud and pleased in every way.
(SONG # 3 - "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross!")
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