"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Monday, October 30, 2023

The G.E.P.C Study – GALATIANS 4: PART 1 - Paul’s epistles to Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, & Colossi

INTRODUCTION: Chapter divisions are not always made in the best places in Scripture. Sometimes the break comes right in the middle of a point being made. So long as it’s understood that these chapter (and verse) divisions are man-made and most useful for reference (when your pastor or Bible teacher tells you to turn to “Galatians 4”, you know exactly where to go – unless you’re new to the faith, in which case, the Table of Contents is quite convenient, and Bible tabs are a blessing!

Here in GALATIANS 4, the apostle Paul picks up on the biblical truth of “promise” as mentioned in GALATIANS previously:

that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

17 And this I say that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise [made to Abraham] of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. 19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made [the promise made by the Father about and to the Son]; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.

But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The enduring promises of GOD are granted by faith (presently to the church), apart from the Mosaic Law – Abraham is proof of this truth, that justification comes by faith in GOD’s promises, not in the keeping of the Law. By GOD’s promise we receive salvation, inherit the Spirit as well as our adoption into the family of GOD (via spiritual rebirth) and receive all spiritual blessings in the Person of Christ. All of the promises of GOD are ultimately given to and fulfilled by “the Seed” which is Christ Jesus our LORD (2 COR 1:17-20).

The breaking of the Mosaic Covenant (which Israel ultimately broke and was cast out of the land for her transgressions when they were hauled off to Babylon for 70 years; and afterward returned according to GOD’s declaration in JER 25:11-12; 29:10) cannot abrogate the unconditional promise GOD made to Abraham (GAL 3:17-18).

This is important to understand regarding the nation of Israel and the land GOD gave to them. The land ultimately is granted by grace, just as GOD’s covenant to Israel. They cannot be broken by inappropriate behavior by the Jewish people.
GOD will ensure that He will turn ungodliness away from Jacob, just as He will make good on His promises.

Thus, those who would deny Israel her GOD given heritage are either untaught regarding these covenants, or intentionally dismissing them.

Apostle Paul picks up this thread of “the promise” in these analogies and exhortations, in vs. 23 and 28 in this chapter before us.

1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

We are children of GOD only through and because of the LORD Jesus Christ and our faith in His atoning sacrifice. It’s a common belief that we are all “GOD’s children” but JOHN 1:12-13 plainly indicates that this belief is wrong. We are all GOD’s creation, yes, but we need to become a child of GOD by receiving Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

Because of Adam’s fall into sin, that sin severed any relationship we, his offspring had with GOD; we became perverted from our innocent state and became sinners who “hate the light” (JOHN 3:20).

Until or unless that happens, we are “children of the devil… of darkness” (JOHN 8:44-46; EPH 5:8; ACTS 26:18; ROM 1:21; 1 THESS 5:5 shows that we saints were formerly “darkness”).

We are children of GOD, children of His light now and enjoy the blessedness of calling GOD our Abba Father! There is no greater honor, privilege, blessing and grace than this!

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

This same ‘sonship’ will be enjoyed by the nation of Israel upon their national repentance and reception of their Messiah, Y’shua. In the days of the early church, the believing Jews who were under the Law until “the promised seed” came also enjoyed this blessing! They were “under guardians and stewards until the time appointed” by the Father Who “in the fullness of time” (GAL 4:4) brought the Son, the Redeemer of Israel!

In the days of the Greek and Roman Empires, children were supervised by what were known as pedagogues; these were teachers, mentors and guardians who cared for their master’s children educationally and socially; even when everyone was at home. Some of those same children would eventually grow up to become ‘adopted’ by their father. This idea sounds strange to our 21st century minds, but the concept was that the child, typically the son, that was best suited to take their father’s place would at the time appointed receive all the powers, authorities and rights of their father. They were adopted by their father for such.

This same idea is here applied by apostle Paul: that we were under the tutelage of the Law that educated us on our spiritual state and on the holiness that GOD requires of us if He is ever to accept us into His holy kingdom.

If we learned our lessons well, we would inevitably conclude that we are utterly hopeless to gain GOD’s favor as being acceptably holy, righteous and just in His sight.

It’s a humiliating truth that all of our various levels of righteousnesses that we can manufacture are utterly deficient and has a nil probability of being accepted:
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

See PHIL 3:9
If we want to ‘graduate law school’ then such an admission to the truth is necessary; for inasmuch as we are sinners, Christ died for us sinners to provide for us eternal life (JOHN 3:16; ROM 5:8; 1 JOHN 4:9)!

3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

“Children” here meaning those of us who were subject to our “pedagogues of the Pentateuch” and being under the law we were in bondage to the rudimentary principles of this world and all of the lusts inherit to them:
1 JOHN 2:15-16
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

ROM 12:2; JAMES 4:4
When the Law was revealed to mankind, one would have thought it would have curbed the propensities of sin. The alarmingly sad fact of the matter is that sin actually increased and intensified. It was the fact that we continued in sin, all the while knowing Who we were rebelling against (ROM 7:13)! There’s the rebellious nature of man for you! I believe this rebellion will find its climax among the nations during the reign of the antichrist (2 THESS 2:7-12).

“The fulness of time” – the wait for the Messiah was over, two thousand years ago! Those few and faithful saints of Israel watched, waited and prayed (such as Simeon and Anna the prophetess; see LK 2:25-38).

I always think of Handel’s Messiah, WORTHY IS THE LAMB when I read this passage:
LUKE 2:9-14
 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
Why is the Deity of Christ so vital to the Christian faith? And why is His humanity equally important?

Firstly, there was need of a perfect mediator, a perfect representative of GOD, and a perfect representative for mankind. The LORD Jesus meets that criteria perfectly. No one less than GOD could possibly pay the eternal price of GOD’s perfect and eternal justice and judgment required for the sum total of mankind’s sin from history’s beginning to the end. No other’s righteousness would be sufficient, than the righteousness of the very GOD Who gave His Holy Law to us – and that righteousness is attributed to our account, just as our sins and transgressions were transferred to Christ’s account.

He is the perfect example for us on what GOD is like, and the perfect example of humanity as GOD would like!

There is also the concept of the kinsman goel, as outlined in the Torah: if any family member among the tribes incurred a debt that they couldn’t pay, or managed to get themselves into indentured servitude, their debt, their land, their deliverance could be paid for so that the family member would go free and have everything restored to them.

But this couldn’t be done by a friend, or neighbor or government official; it had to be a relative, and that relative couldn’t be coerced into it. They had to redeem their relative by their own choice.

Likewise Christ was a descendent of Adam, of Abraham – so as a member of the human race, He could redeem any of us; being a member of the nation of Israel in particular, he could redeem Israel.

6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

We all know the expression, “Like father, like son”, and “the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree”. These sayings express that the nature seen in the father – his characteristics, his habits, personality, even his skills can be and often are mirrored in the son (“A chip off the old block” is another saying, though in my family it was more like, “a flame off of the old fire”!)

Spiritually speaking, one who becomes a child of GOD (JOHN 1:12) experiences the infusion of a new nature according to the very nature of Christ Himself. They find that all of their relationships are redefined:
Where before they enjoyed sin without much, if any conviction, and now they are bothered, grieved, guilt-ridden when they commit sin.
Before they thought of GOD as some mysterious, perhaps odious old man eager to dispense wrath and judgment, and now He becomes a loving Abba Father that yearns for close fellowship with us, His children.
Before such spiritual regeneration, religion seemed like a duty, often burdensome and boring, and now they have a vital, joyful, meaningful relationship with the LORD Who Himself takes our burdens and brings excitement to our lives as we delve into fellowship with Him.
Before the Bible was a book as mysterious as GOD was Himself, and now it opens up for us and dispenses such spiritual truths that astound us; it becomes our spiritual food upon which we feast with delight and wonder, learning of our LORD, His plan for the ages as well as for ourselves.
Before, going to church meant that we would (perhaps grudgingly) reserve one hour a week (but no more!) to go to “GOD’s House” and then wave farewell at the end of our visit, promising to see Him again “whenever”. And now we can’t wait to assemble with our heavenly family and worship GOD together with the saints, to praise His holiness and grace, to hear the Word preached, and to fellowship with and minister to the saints.
Our Christlikeness doesn’t happen all at once; but there should be some indication of an immediate change, if in nothing else, our conviction to the reality of the resurrected Christ and His atonement on the Cross for sin.

And as we abide in Christ, just as He abides in us (JOHN 15:4-5), we undergo the process of sanctification that follows our justification by faith in Christ.* This process begins upon our spiritual rebirth and will continue throughout our life time until we are finally with Christ Jesus our LORD, face to Face, when we receive our glorified bodies (ROM 8:23; 1 COR 15:42-43, 49-54). At that time, we will be perfected and the sin nature will have been extracted from our very being, no longer to burden and obstruct us ever again!

* For a detailed and deep examination of justification by faith, check out R.A. Torrey's commentary!

On the matter of being heirs of Christ:
ROMANS 8:16-17
16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

I’m confident that we have only the merest inkling of what this entails:

"He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son

JOHN 3:35
"The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand (See also MATT 11:27; 28:18; JOHN 5:22; 13:3; 17:2).
Just as we have inherited the new nature, we shall inherit new bodies. We are inheritors of the Kingdom of GOD, and residency in the New Jerusalem as well as the New Heavens and the New Earth. We inherit the authority of Christ by virtue of the new birth and exercise such by faith as we grow in knowledge, wisdom and grace. We inherit all of this because the LORD Jesus has, and will continue to make “all things new”!

I’m persuaded that “flesh and blood” and “eyes…ears… hearts…” can’t conceive of all that GOD has prepared for us that love Him (1 COR 2:9) – but it’s sure fun to think about, isn’t it?

What we must remember however is just as we are inheritors of all of these glorious things, we are also inheritors – as GOD’s ambassadors and representatives to this evil, dark, sinful world – of Christ’s sufferings. Just as He was persecuted, we should – we must expect the same (LUKE 6:22; 23:31; MATT 5:10-11; 10:25; JOHN 15:20; 2 TIM 2:12; 3:12; 1 PET 3:14; 4:14,16).

I love the fact that we are no longer considered slaves to the Law, wherein we would incur nothing but judgment and condemnation. Instead we are GOD’s sons and daughters who will inherit as “overcomers” all things!

And while we are children of GOD, we may elect to become slaves of a different sort: doulos in the Greek, meaning a bond slave who willingly chooses to be a servant for life to the Master that they love. Paul identifies himself as such (ROM 1:1) as does the elder James (JAMES 1:1) and Peter and Jude (2 PET 1:1; JUDE 1:1).
Shouldn’t we as disciples of Christ surrender absolutely all of our lives to the One Who surrendered all to obtain salvation for us?
Should we even think of reserving the slightest fraction of our lives for ourselves, make important life choices (where we live, who we marry, what job to take, where and how we spend our [HIS] money) according to our own plans and desires apart from seeking GOD’s will? Since we belong to GOD absolutely, I honestly see no other viable alternative than “I surrender all”.
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
For all of the insurmountable ways in which Christ Jesus took, not the lower place, but THE lowest place in utter humility by being our sin bearer and the ultimate Servant, these men considered themselves “unprofitable servants” (LUKE 17:10) because they realized that even if they devoted every second of their lives, every breath, such devotion couldn’t possibly come close to equaling Christ’s service to them!

But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.

To serve anything with wholehearted devotion besides our Creator is exalting that thing to a much higher place than it deserves: any human relationship, any career, money, possessions, etc. is considered idolatry. GOD created us for Himself, and for His pleasure (REV 4:11).
We see ancient man and his ludicrous folly for cutting down a tree, and using part of it to create a fire, and part of it to build something useful, and then a part of it to create an idol to which he then bows down and worships it (ISA 44:15-17; 46:6).

But isn’t it equally foolish for man to worship his own intellect?
We’ve heard the expression, “Trust the science” but what is science, except “knowledge” through which we utilize our intellect to add more knowledge to the “body of science”.

Yet people are devoted to science “for all the answers in life” and in these recent decades has (rediscovered) come to understand that science can’t provide them all – which is why we see a resurgence of the occult and the experiential and turning from ‘hard science’ to the intuitive and subjective realm of the spiritual world.

Further, what we are witnessing today is a merging of science (falsely called; 1 TIM 6:20) and the occult by way of the deplorably inadequate theory of evolution. Mankind is believing the lie of the serpent, that humanity is evolving to ‘godhood’.
Side note: “Mutation plus natural selection makes evolution impossible”. Mutation is not the addition of new genetic information, but rather the reduction of such. With decreasing availability of genetic information, nature has less and less to select from, until there is not enough viable genetic information to choose from, and thus, any advancement in any species is impossible. Russ Miller demonstrates this flawlessly! And yet, though this theory is ultimately unproveable (that is to say “macro-evolution” – the transition from one species into another species of a higher order), people still devote themselves to this theory out of rejection of their Creator!
Ignorance of GOD ensures ignorance of reality and the truth, both founded upon Jesus Christ (ROM 1:20-32) and will result in ruin of soul and nation!

Check out this video by pastor Sonny Islas of SHINE BRIGHT Church

9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.

Those of us who are truly GOD’s children, not only know GOD, but we also know that He knows us! It’s the same with any true and valid relationship; that’s what it’s all about: getting to know each other!

You say, “But GOD knows everybody!” and in one sense, that’s true because He is all-knowing (omniscient), but there is the koinonia fellowship where intimacy and belonging that can only be experienced by GOD our Father and His children.

There are others, who, for all of their religious activities and claims of Jesus as LORD, that He does NOT know!
MATTHEW 7:22-23
22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
One of the evidences of our true love for the LORD is demonstrated by our obedient hearts (JOHN 14:21), and it’s those who express this loving obedience that find assurance in the storms and struggles, the trials and turmoil in this life, and they are preserved, being established on the ROCK, the LORD Jesus Christ (MATT 7:24-25).

And we know that we only love the LORD because He loved us first (1 JOHN 4:19)!

Why then would anyone willingly choose to leave the blessing we have in Christ Jesus for religious ritual, ceremony, obligations, sacrifices – all of which are mere shadows of that One came to set us free (HEB 8:5-13; 10:1-14,19-23).

There are those instances when we minister to, and, or fellowship with those we believe to be saints, who we believe to have been redeemed, who for all appearance, seem to have the Spirit. Yet later on, we see some of these vehemently and violently deny the faith, they reject Christ, they ridicule the church and the Word of GOD. These are what the Scriptures refer to as “tares” (MATT 13:24-30; this is the parable of the tares among the wheat) or “false brethren” (2 COR 11:26; GAL 2:4). Yet we can’t always be certain about who’s who. In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the workers asked the landowner if he wanted them to pull up the tares; the landowner said, “No, you might end up pulling up some wheat that hasn’t fruited yet. Let both grow until the end of harvest, then it will be obvious what needs harvesting, and what needs burning”.

There were some of these Hebrew Christians there in Galatia that were reverting back to Judaism, and relying on their adherence to the Old Covenant for salvation. In a little more than two decades after Paul wrote this epistle (around 48 AD), the Temple would be destroyed – no more offerings and sacrifices could be made – and none were needed, for the LAMB of GOD had come to take away the sin of the world!

But these who would revert back to the Old Covenant would have no basis to interact with the GOD of Israel! We cannot afford to return to “the old life” – there is no profit there, no blessedness, only the emptiness that we experienced before we came to Christ.

And for those who “tried Jesus and it didn’t work”, I would classify them as the swine and dogs spoken of in Scripture:
2 PETER 2:20-23
20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."
By knowledge of the LORD a person may “escape” those influences which defile, that they were subject to when conversant with such things, and for a time, experience a work of the Spirit to draw such a soul to the truth of the Gospel – to which they may actually give intellectual assent (but not believing with the heart, but have “believed in vain”; ROM 10:9-10; 1 COR 15:2) – they are free to walk away still, because no true conversion has taken place, they have not been irrevocably sealed of the Spirit (2 COR 1:22; EPH 1:13; 4:30). They have only “tasted” of that “heavenly gift” – not swallowed (HEB 6:4).

The same word is used of Christ when on the Cross He tasted of the myrrh mixed with vinegar, but would not drink it (MATT 27:34).

Those who return to their old ways reveal that their nature was never changed to begin with. They weren’t once pigs and dogs, then became sheep, only then to revert back to their former selves.

They left the mire and vomit with the same nature as when they returned; they were still pigs and dogs!

Seeing how we still have more than half of Chapter 4 yet to exposit, I shall end PART 1 here, and conclude this next time in PART 2.

In the meantime, be blessed by our One and Only Potentate (1 TIM 6:15), the LORD Jesus Christ!

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