THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 2-9-03
LESSON TITLE: TO THE CHURCHES OF GALATIA: "CHAPTER 3: JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH"
Here we are together again on another fine Lord's day! We are so glad you have chosen to be with us today, as we commit this time to our creator. Having the privilege to study God's Word and to sing praises to His name is something we all should be very thankful for. May each of us today do our part in this collective offering to God. Now, let's approach His supreme throne in prayer!
Isn't it hard trying to be just like Christ? Especially when we know that Christ was pure, righteous and perfect in everything. On top of that Jesus was the Son of God, and furthermore, God in the flesh Himself. This morning, we want to sing a song that reminds us of what we can and must do to be prepared to live a life like Christ. Won't you do your part in song to God, as we together sing, "Soldiers of Christ Arise!"
(SONG # 1)
One of the greatest lessons that Jesus ever taught was in relationship to "turning the other cheek," when someone has done us wrong. On the other hand, the same Bible also says that we are to "fight the good fight." Now which is it, let people do things against us and still act right, or must we fight when the situation calls for it?
Well, the answer is - both! At first you might say but this is a contradiction, but I would say, hardly. No doubt, we are to always act like Christ and turn the other cheek, just as we mentioned earlier, as found in Matthew 5:29. In verse 45, Jesus tells us "why," when He said, "...that you may be sons of your Father in heaven;..." You see we must do what Christ did and follow His example.
Now, in relationship to "fighting the good fight," we also see that this is a Godly principle. In fact, in 1 Timothy 6:12, the inspired Paul said, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." So what is this "fighting" that Paul and other authors in the Bible keep talking about?
Our answer is found in Ephesians 6:10-12, where we read, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." This fight, battle or warfare we are talking about is a spiritual one! Our goal as Christians is to stand up and to fight in the spiritual battle for Jesus Christ, WHY? So that we can win others over through the efforts of our warfare!
Further on in the same text Paul goes on to talk about the items which we need in this fight. He talks of "girding our waist with the truth," "the breastplate of righteousness," putting on our feet the gospel of Christ," "taking the shield of faith," the helmet of salvation," "and finally, our sword - the word of God. You see, all of these weapons again remind us that this battle is not a physical one, but one spiritual in nature. So let's all put on the armor of God, and wage this spiritual warfare, for the sakes of those who need to obey the gospel of Christ.
Today, we will again continue our series entitled, "To the Churches of Galatia." Our specific topic this morning will focus on "Chapter 3: Justification by Faith." After our next song together, I will return with this discussion from God's Word. Now, won't you join in our second hymn of this glorious Lord's Day, as we sing together, "The Glory Land Way."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you so much for continuing with us today as we have this chance now to go to God's Word and continue to look at the important lessons of Galatians. In fact, we find here in the very first chapter as we look in our introduction as well as our first lesson, that it is addressed to the churches of Galatia, many of those Christians in those different areas who certainly needed to know more, just as we, about God's Will and what He would have us to do.
You might recall there in chapter 1 that we also began to deal specifically with some ideas about the importance of the gospel and how there is but one truth and one gospel. That was very significant that Paul began and start this book out with a discussion about how God's Word is found in a single message, a single concept with a single truth. He says that basically because the majority of the book as you have noticed already in our discussions is basically dealing with the concept that there were some who were trying to follow more than one law. You might recall again who that was. It was simply the Jews, those of the Jewish faith. They were getting caught up and really wanting to hold on to some of the old traditions. And as we begin to look at chapter 2, we see there that Paul himself began to make a great defense of that one gospel and tried to tell them that simply they were no longer under the old things, but now we are under Christ Jesus. We are under the new law. In chapter 2 also, you might remember that it was there that Paul withstood face to face men like Peter and other Jews who basically were in a sense prejudice against those who were Gentiles because they had not been circumcised as Christians. What was circumcision found under? Again, the old law. It was something that Paul clearly was showing to the Galatians here was not necessary under the new law, but simply was a work of the flesh and was not beneficial in a spiritual way and therefore Paul said that those such as Peter and others were in sin. They were wrong in trying to claim that we must hold on to the old law when really the fact is that God has given us a new, a greater and better law that was sealed by the very special and precious blood of His own son Jesus Christ.
I want you to go on now to chapter 3 where we will begin as we look now at our lesson of the day is the concept of "justification by faith." Again, we are no longer under the old law, but what are we justified by then, God? We are justified by faith. That's exactly what the emphasis is found here in chapter 3 of the book of Galatians. If you'll notice there in the first several verses, it is interesting how he first addresses the brethren there as he says, "Oh foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you. Did you not receive the spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?" Here we see a great concern that Paul had with the church, the Christians at Galatia, because first of all he said, "Did you not hear the truth? Did you not obey the truth? Did you not have myself and others who were direct apostles and disciples of God who themselves had been chosen of Jesus to present the Will of God? Did you not hear truly who Christ was and about the new law?" The reason he says this again is that is says here, "because many of them were returning to the works of the law."
Thus, in verse 2 he says, "Do you gain the spirit through the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Well again, certainly you and I know the answer. But again, in verse 3 he says, "Are you so foolish, having begun in the spirit, are now being made perfect by the flesh?" He says, "Look, you woke up at one point, you became children of God and by the spirit and in faith you obeyed God and you are followers of God, but now..."
he says, "you are trying to make yourselves perfect or be considered as perfect by looking again to the old law." The old law that you and I know has been put away. The old law that you and I know has been made obsolete because it is something that is from before, something that is not really binding on us today because Christ has given us a better and greater sacrifice.
An important verse that helps us with that concept is found in Hebrews chapter 8. Really the whole chapter deals a lot with what we're discussing here in the book of Galatians. Here the Hebrew writer, many believing also to be Paul, says similar things about the old covenant being put away and the new covenant being put into effect by the blood of Christ. There at the end of that chapter, chapter 8:13, he says, "In that he says, a new covenant, he has made the first obsolete." Now what is becoming obsolete and is growing old is ready to vanish away. The fact that Christ came with a better, more perfect sacrifice, a greater covenant with greater promises, greater privileges, greater freedoms, then you and I are under a greater law, the new law just as they were in New Testament times, "the law that has replaced," as it says here, "that which has vanished away, that which has been made obsolete." In chapter 9, he goes on to say, "Once the death of the testator took place, once Jesus died and shed His blood, His blood was not shed to seal the old covenant, because you and I know that chapters 8 and 9 say that the old covenant was sealed by the blood of bulls and goats. Jesus' blood then did what? It sealed the new covenant. "He being nailed on the cross," there in Colossians 2 and verse 14 "nailed the old law, the handwriting of ordinances to the cross in order that the blood that was shed might create a new and a better and a greater hope and promise to the covenant of Jesus Christ. That's exactly what Paul is talking about her in this letter to the Galatians.
Then he goes on to really help them, I believe, understand and see from a broader standpoint the fact that really now you and I even though we might be Gentiles, Jews, Gentiles, whoever, free, bond, all alike are one in Christ Jesus. We are all one in Christ Jesus and as we see here, all of Abraham's seed, whether we are literally of the seed of not, whether we are literal descendants or not, "through Christ Jesus," he says, "we have been made perfect."
In fact, you might drop on down to verse 16 of chapter 3 because it is there that it says, "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made." He does not say "to seeds" as of many, but as to one. Then he goes on to say, "And to your seed, who is Christ."
The seed. Christ. That which would one day come from Abraham's own lineage, descendants that would someday bless all mankind and allow anyone to be called a child of God whether they were under the old law, or whether they were Jews, or whether they were Gentiles in Christ Jesus. All of that was no longer important. Why? Because the new law was brought into effect and given then a great privilege, a great opportunity to confirm that which God wanted through His son, a greater and a better thing.
One more verse before we move on that I would like to look at is found in verse 15. I think there in connection to our discussion, I think there is a verse that we talk about from time to time and if you'll notice there, it talks about how that Paul may have sometimes spoken of man's covenants and sometimes refers to as God's covenants and how that we cannot add to or take away from those things that are found true and sacred of God. We cannot annul or add to anything that God has said. Again, Paul says this to these Christians, many who were Jews. They were turning back to the old law. Look, what God has set down in motion, adhere to it. Don't keep turning back and wanting the old things, but do what Christ has said.
Now to confirm further what we are trying to prove here this morning and especially from the lesson of Galatians chapter 3. Notice with me beginning in verse 19 because the question is actually asked, "What is the purpose of the law? Why then didn't God just have Christ come in the beginning? What was the law for?" Well if you go on there in verse 20, he helps us to begin understanding as he says there, "Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God?" Certainly not! "For if there could have been a law given which could have been given for life, truly righteousness would have been that law." Here again, you know that that law may have or may have not been given for life but obviously since there was a new, it was not. But then he goes on to say as we look a bit further what the law was all about in verse 23 and following. But before faith came, we were kept under guard..." By what? "...by the law..." For what? "...for the faith which would be afterwards revealed." Through what? Through the seed which was Jesus Christ.
Verse 24, "Therefore, the law, once again, was a tutor..." To do what? "...to bring us to Christ that we must be justified by faith." No longer justified by the laws he said, but justified by faith.
Verse 25, "After faith has come..." What happens to the tutor? "...we are no longer under a tutor." The law, a tutor, a schoolmaster preparing for the faith that is found in Christ Jesus that is coming. Once that faith has come in Christ Jesus, what happens to the law? Here he tells the Jews that it is obsolete. It vanished away. It is no longer necessary. Why? Because now we are in faith believers in Jesus Christ, sealed by His covenant, not of animal blood, but His own blood.
Therefore, verse 26, "we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." Not through the law. Not through the old things. Not through Judaism. Not through being a Hebrew or circumcision, but through the faith in Christ Jesus as we are all children and sons of God, all of Abraham's seed through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
You might say, "Well then how do I get in to that family? What is it that I do?" Well, in verse 27 he answers the question, "For as many of you have been baptized into Christ have..." Done what? "...put Him on." If I want to put on Christ and become His child and become a follower and do that which He has asked me to do, if I want to be of Abraham's seed and be a follower that truly is through what Christ has given us in His Word and according to the Will of the Father as presented even before the world was created, if I want to accomplish those things what must I do? Be obedient to the Word. And the Word tells us that to put on Christ, baptism is essential. Obviously, we need to confess Christ and repent of sin. But here, baptism is mentioned as that thing that "actually clothes us in Christ Jesus, that provides us the opportunity to be forgiven of sins," Acts 22:16, just as Ananias told Paul.
Therefore, as "we are all one in Christ through baptism and as we've been added by the Lord to His church," Acts 2:47. Notice with me what verses 28-29 say. "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 and if you are in Christ then you are of Abraham's seed and heirs according to his promise." We are all children, sons of God, heirs according to his promise. Why? Because of what Christ Jesus did for each and every one of us. No matter who we are. No matter what our background. No matter if we're servants, whether we're masters, whether we're slaves, whether we have a lot of money, whether we have no money, whatever color we might be, all are one in Christ Jesus and therefore, may we preach and teach to the whole world that they need and can obey Jesus Christ and just as you and I have, we can be complete followers in Him and be accepted according to His Will.
(SONG # 3 - "To Canaan's Land I'm On My Way!")
Thank you again for choosing to be with us today, as we gave this time to God. It is always a blessing to have you with us. We invite you to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to doing the things of God in His Way!
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May we all acknowledge the true importance which faith plays in the salvation of a child of God, for truly without faith it is impossible to please Him!