Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Bondage of Legalism

Let’s pick up our study again today in Galatians 2:4-5 where Paul is speaking of those who were trying to put them back under the Law of Moses. Jesus told the Pharisees in Matt 23:25 you are “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” I read an illustration several years ago that comes back to mind as I think of what is like to trying to live under the Law. It goes something like this, “Professional golfer Tommy Bolt was playing in Los Angeles and had a caddy with a reputation of constant chatter. Before they teed off, Bolt told him, "Don't say a word to me. And if I ask you something, just answer yes or no." During the round, Bolt found the ball next to a tree, where he had to hit under a branch, over a lake and onto the green. He got down on his knees and looked through the trees and sized up the shot. What do you think?" he asked the caddy. "Five-iron?" "No, Mr. Bolt," the caddy said. "What do you mean, not a five-iron?" Bolt snorted. "Watch this shot." The caddy rolled his eyes. "No-o-o, Mr. Bolt." But Bolt hit it and the ball stopped about two feet from the hole. He turned to his caddy, handed him the five-iron and said, "Now what do you think about that? You can talk now." "Mr. Bolt," the caddy said, "that wasn't your ball." Yep, that about sums it up! Legalism takes all of the fun out of being a child of the King.

Some say today that you have to keep the Sabbath to be saved. Well, what about the rest of the Law: sacrificing animals for sins, stoning fornicators, etc… Why just that one? Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1-4, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage…if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing…every man that is circumcised…is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” In other words, you either live under the Law or accept the completed work of Christ on Calvary when He kept the Law for you. You can’t do one without forfeiting the other.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Feature

My son Dane, who knows infinitely more about computers than I will ever know, placed a "Followers" gadget at the bottom of my blog. Click it and register if you would like to automatically receive notices when I update the blog. God bless each of you!

Our Liberty

Let’s pick up our study in Galatians 2:3 where it says, “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.” This verse speaks to the fact that circumcision was deemed not necessary in order for the Gentiles (anyone that is not a Jew) to obtain for salvation. That was decided at the council that took place in Jerusalem in Acts 15. It essentially established that salvation was not by keeping the works of the law, but by grace alone.

Notice vv.4-5, “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” The false brethren spoken of here are those who had questioned the new found “liberty” from the law that was now theirs in Christ.

Obviously, in Paul’s ministry, he had met a lot of these guys. He spoke of them in 2 Corinthians 11:26 when he said that he had suffered at the hands of “false brethren.” Make no mistake about it. They are still around today. Peter spoke of them in 2 Peter 2:1-3 when he said, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you.”

With that in mind, what is our liberty? No more bondage to the Law (3:25, 5:1, 4:9)! In contrast to the two commands of Christ, (love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind and your neighbor as yourself), the Pharisees had developed a system of 613 laws, 365 negative commands and 248 positive laws. Unfortunately, by the time the Lord Jesus came it had produced a heartless, cold, and arrogant brand of righteousness. As such, it contained at least ten tragic flaws. (1) New laws continually need to be invented for new situations. (2) Accountability to God is replaced by accountability to men. (3) It reduces a person's ability to personally discern. (4) It creates a judgmental spirit. (5) The Pharisees confused personal preferences with divine law. (6) It produces inconsistencies. (7) It created a false standard of righteousness. (8) It became a burden to the Jews. (9) It was strictly external. (10) It was rejected by Christ.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Desert Theological Seminary

Today, we are going to pickup in Galatians chapter 2. This chapter is very interesting to me in that we find Paul comparing the gospel that he had been preaching with the gospel that the apostles had been preaching to see if they were the same. Remember that Paul had not sat under anyone’s teaching, but had received his training at what I like to call Desert Theological Seminary (that’s the time that he spent in the desert after his conversion experience in Acts 9). It was apparently then that he received much of his knowledge of who Jesus really was and what he was to then do about it.

Notice v.1, “Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.” “Then after fourteen years” means that Paul had not been there since his last visit in 2:18 right after his conversion. We do know that Paul did return to Jerusalem with the “collection for the saints” in Acts 11:27-30, but because he did not meet with the apostles at that time; he did not refer to them here.

Many feel that this occasion was the same occasion as recorded in Acts 15 with the Jerusalem Council that concluded that the Gentiles did not need to be circumcised. That being the case, Titus was exhibit A at that council meeting as proof that the Gentiles were being saved even though they had not been circumcised according to Jewish law as given by Moses in the Old Testament.

Notice v.2, “And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” Again, Paul wanted to make sure that the revelation that he had received while at DTS (Desert Theological Seminary) about grace was the same as that of the apostles. If circumcision and law were required for salvation, Paul had been preaching the wrong gospel. We also see some humility in Paul and that’s a far cry from where he was before his conversion, when by his own admonition, he was an arrogant and insolent man like many of us before we got saved. However, those attributes certainly should not mark our lives since we have come to Christ. Both are sinful.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I just realized today that many of the links off of my blog are not working. This is because the website that they were hosted on changed domain names. I am in the process of pulling them up one at a time and reposting them directly on my site. Some of them are complete already. Bear in mind that anything that has a link through does not work now. I'll get them all up and working as soon as I can. God bless each of you.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Jesus' Family

Let’s pick up our study in Galatians 1:18 where it says, “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.” As we discussed last week, from the time of Paul’s conversion until the time he arrived in Jerusalem was three years because he was not seeking their approval.

Notice vv.19-20, “But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.” Upon his arrival in Jerusalem, Paul also sees an apostle that he refers to as "James, the Lord's brother." The Lord had brothers? Hang on now; I’m going to get a little controversial here; but that’s okay, I’ve got the Bible on my side. One of the most unsubstantiated and contradictory doctrines espoused by the Roman Catholic Church is the perpetual virginity of Mary. This doctrine teaches that Mary never had any other children after Jesus. However, the Bible clearly teaches that Mary and Joseph had more children after Jesus. In actuality, Jesus had at least four brothers and two sisters. It says in Mark 6:3, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.” I’m sure that some are offended at me right now as well.

To further press the point, the Bible also tells us that Jesus’ brothers were married. It says in 1 Corinthians 9:5, “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” Notice that it says “the brethren of the Lord”. That is not referring to spiritual brethren but biological. Also, the Bible says that his brothers had a hard time believing in him as the Messiah. In John 7:1-9 it says, “…His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.” They were literally daring Jesus to go Judea: to his own hurt of course. These were Jesus’ brothers. My grandmother used to tell me, “Son, as long as you have family, you’ll never lack for enemies.” The older I get, the more I realize how true that is!