Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 34
GALATIANS 4:15 – 5:11
It’s always so nice when the mail runs, because we look forward to hearing from you. You don’t have to apologize when you can’t afford a love offering. We love your letters anyway. We don’t open our mail to see how much money is sent, although it does take money to pay these TV stations, but our first concern is what’s on your heart and mind, and we just thank the Lord for every one of you.
Now in the last lesson we had just come out of Chapter 4 and the allegory of Isaac and Ishmael. Remember Ishmael stood for the Law and legalism whereas Isaac was a picture of the freedom that we have in Grace because of the promises of God. Now that’s what it all really boils down to. God has promised that if we will believe for our salvation what Christ has done for us in the finished work of the Cross, then we are His for eternity. It’s just like the Lord Jesus said, in John Chapter 17-
“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.”
That was a different setting than the Church Age believers, but yes that holds for us as well. We are literally God’s gift to the Son in response to His obedience to the work of the Cross. All right these next few verses are going to shock a lot of people – they have in the past and I’m sure they will again in the future if we continue on. Where Paul writes now to you and I as well as to the Galatian believers –
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty (or the freedom) wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Because the yoke of bondage has been done away with, but yet people will just go to all lengths it seems to pull that bondage back into their lifestyles. They think they have to have some kind of a works religion to satisfy the ego. It has to be the ego because when you’re saved by Grace there’s no ego. There is no pride because we deserve none of it, and I know that I have to ask the Lord constantly, “Why have you seen fit to pour out such Grace on Iris and I?” I feel that the Lord has just blessed us so abundantly, but not because we deserve his Grace and blessing. We don’t deserve a nickel’s worth of it.
But, oh, the liberty that we have in Christ because of what He’s accomplished on our behalf. I think at this time we need to look at a verse in Colossians Chapter 2. It’s a verse that I use quite often and I love it because it just rings like a bell.
“And you, (believers as members of the Body of Christ) being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, (as Gentiles we were just as lost as anybody could be) hath he(Christ) quickened (or made alive spiritually) together with him, having (already) forgiven you all trespasses; (how many? All of them from start to finish.) 14. Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”
Now isn’t that a beautiful way of putting it? He took the Law and all of it’s demands, and all of legalism, and just literally jerked it away and nailed it to His Cross. Picture that in your mind. As He hung there and was crucified for the sins of the world, the Law was crucified with Him. And it is now a dead system, and oh, the human race is constantly pulling it back out of the grave. Have you ever fooled with something that’s been dead for a while? It’s not pretty is it? Listen, that’s the way we must feel about legalism, and this is what Paul is trying to hammer home with these Galatians and people today. “Why do you go back with that weak and beggarly stuff that’s been done away with?” It’s been crucified. That thought reminds me of Romans Chapter 7, and let’s look at verse 4.
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; (or the work of the Cross) that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. 5. For when we were in the flesh, (that old Adam. We were spiritually dead) the motions of sins, which were by the law,(remember all the Law could do was condemn. The Law always made whoever was trying to keep it, guilty. And yet that’s the very thing that people somehow like to resurrect and bring back into their lifestyle) did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. (Remember the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. That’s the two opposites) 6. But now (as a result of believing in our Gospel) we (believers) are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
Do you see how plain that is? We’re not to be laboring under that old system of Law which is now crucified as far as God is concerned, it’s dead, it’s gone, and oh we saw that especially in our letters to the Corinthians. You remember that veil that was never taken away for Israel? They could never understand that the Law was now finished and done and that’s why they’re still trying to keep it today. But you and I know better. We know that the Law has been satisfied, set aside, crucified and put to death. Now back to Galatians Chapter 5. Also remember when I speak of the Law I’m not just talking about the Ten Commandments and Temple worship, BUT RATHER I’M TALKING ABOUT ANYTHING THAT YOU CAN ATTACH TO THE BEAUTIFUL GOSPEL WE BELIEVE FOR OUR SALVATION. THAT’S LEGALISM! Legalism is anything that you can make up your mind that you’re going to do and then go and do it.
Now when I speak of legalism I recall that Iris and I read a little book that took place back in southwestern Missouri. In fact every time we drive out east and cross that river we say, “Hey this is the river where that little fellow was the main character of the book we read.” But I’ll never forget the little fellow in the book was about 12 or 14 years old and he’d been kind of a little rascal, and he said, “Well I guess if I really want to please mama I’d better go and join the church.” Does that sound typical?
Now we say that with a smile, but listen how many adults today come to that same place? Well maybe it’s time I quit sewing my wild oats and I’d better settle down and I’d better go join a church.” What is that? That’s legalism. That’s doing something that you can make up your mind, “This is what I’m going to do!” Others will say, “Well I guess I should go and get baptized!” That’s the same thing. It’s still something that you can do, it’s a works religion, it’s legalism, and you could just as well take your sacrifices to some imagined temple someplace, because your accomplishment is the same end. Now reading on.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2. Behold, I Paul (now he always emphasizes his apostleship. We saw that in the Corinthian letters.) say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, (for salvation now remember) Christ shall profit you nothing.”
Now you’ve always got to remember in the context, what was the point of legalism that these Galatian believers were being subjected to? Well circumcision, because that was the main point of legalism in Judaism. So circumcision was the big point then – today we’ve got other things. Circumcision is not the point today that will lead people astray, but here at Galatia this was the crowning mis-teaching that they were being subjected to. And Paul says, “If you’re going to practice the Jewish rite of circumcision as a part of salvation then my Gospel how that Christ died for you and rose from the dead for you will profit you nothing!”
Now I’ve shaken people up over the years – I know I have when I say now don’t just limit that to circumcision. You can put anything in there that a man or woman can do when they add anything to Paul’s beautiful Gospel for salvation, I don’t care what it is. I’ve had people call and say, “My pastor said that unless I speak in tongues I can’t be saved.” Well let’s just put it in there so you can see, and this is no malice toward anyone.
“Behold I Paul say unto you that if you speak in tongues as a requirement for salvation then Christ shall profit you nothing.” Now I’ve got you thinking haven’t I? All right let’s use another word, baptism! Yeah, I see heads nodding all over the place.
“Behold I Paul say unto you that if you are baptized in water as a requirement for salvation then Christ shall profit you nothing.” If you have to tell God that you have to be baptized in order to be saved, then God’s going to tell you, “Sorry I’ll have nothing to do with you.”
Now that’s strong language and I know it is, but listen that’s what the Book is talking about. If you say, “Well I’m going to go and join a church,” and if you’re expecting that to somehow be part of your salvation then immediately you cancel the work of the Cross. That’s what the Book says, it’s not my idea. It would be great if we could do things like that for salvation. I wish I could tell people, “Go join a church and you’ll make it to heaven.” I remember an old neighbor of mine years ago and we were talking across the fence, and one of the local pastors had come out and told him if he would just come in and join his church and give $5.00 a year, he’d go to heaven when he died. And the old boy told me, “Now even I know better than that.” Well thank God there are still people a little smarter than these others. But listen the world is full of these crazy ideas, but they reject the simplicity of the Gospel. Now verse 3.
“For I testify again (what does that imply? Hey, he’s said it more than once before) to every man that is circumcised, (in other words if you’re going to use this legalistic rite of circumcision as part of your salvation plus my Gospel in what Paul is implying) that he (that man) is a debtor to do the whole law.”
Now how many men have ever done the whole Law? Only one and that was Christ Himself. No one has ever been able to keep the whole Law as it’s impossible. So when people think they can, they’re just barking up the wrong tree. You cannot somehow or other gain salvation by doing something, and you’re not going to gain salvation by saying, “Yes I believe Christ died for me and rose from the dead, but I’ve also got to do this and that in order to finish the work of the Cross.”
If you do that then Christ shall profit you nothing. Why? Because God is a jealous God, that’s why. God is jealous of what He has accomplished on our behalf, and what is that? That at the Cross He finished every single demand of God on a sinful person. He would take all that guilt away from that person the moment he believes that Christ died and rose from the dead for his salvation. Now listen, when you really analyze it, isn’t it logical? When God has done so much, when God gave the very best that all of heaven and the Godhead had to offer. When God sent Him to earth, and put Him through the rigors of 33 years of life among sinful men. Then He went to the Cross, suffered and died, and then through the power of God rose from the dead, and then we say, “Well that’s still not enough!”
No wonder God gets upset, no wonder God can consign unbelievers to Hell. I had a call this morning and the person said, “How can God send good people to such a horrible place?” I said, “Look, you wouldn’t ask that question if you had a concept of how much God gave to save sinful men.” See it’s those who cannot understand the work of the Cross, and how much God literally gave up on our behalf, and then when it’s spurned He has every right that you can imagine to consign people to a lost eternity. That’s why. Now I hate to see people lost. I hate to think of a loved one as being lost, but I can’t make excuses for them because I know that God suffered to such an extent for the salvation of everyone that when they spurn it there’s nothing else that God can do. His hands are tied – He can’t come back and say, “Well I’ll give you a second chance.” That’s why it’s appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment. And we’d better take what the Scripture says and believe it. Now verse 4. Boy this just keeps piling it on doesn’t it? It doesn’t get any better, it keeps getting worse.
“Christ is become of no effect…”
Now think about that. Here we go through all these different things to somehow earn salvation by doing this and that, but we’ve never had any faith in the Gospel, and what’s the end result? Christ is become of no effect.) now that’s sad isn’t it? But it so true.
“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law;…” (or legalism, or works)
A Scripture just came to mind in Romans Chapter 3 so let’s turn there for a moment. I guess that’s where we were this morning on the Inspirational Network wasn’t it George? Oh let’s look at it again. Verse 23.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24. Being justified freely (without a cost) by his grace through the redemption (or the process of buying us back) that is in Christ Jesus.” Now I’m going to skip verse 25 because of that great big word “propitiation.” I haven’t got time to explain it again in this lesson, but anyhow come down now to verse 26.
“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, (or fair) and the justifier (or the One who will declare that sinner justified) of him which (joins the Church? Speaks in tongues? Gets baptized? All these other things? No, but which) believeth…”
Now, I’m not an easy believer, and I never teach easy believeism, but what I do maintain is that when we totally believe that Romans 3:23 is speaking about us and that we’re sinners by virtue of us being sons of Adam. And when we believe that with all our heart and that the work of the Cross has done everything we need for salvation – then at that point God justifies us, He saves us, He declares us righteous, He places us into the Body of Christ, He sanctifies us, He glorifies, He forgives, He has His own system of baptism by the Holy Spirit.
I Corinthians 12:13a
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,…”
He does all this simply because we believe the Gospel for our salvation. See there’s no legalism tied to that, that’s pure Grace. Now let’s come back to Galatians Chapter 5.
“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; (or works) ye are fallen from grace.”
Now I know a lot of people think that they’ve been in Grace and fell out. No, that’s not what the apostle Paul is talking about. You haven’t been in and fell out, but what he’s really referring to is this. If you’re going to put all these attachments and amendments on the Gospel, then you have literally turned your back on Grace. You’re saying, “Thanks but no thanks I’ll work for it, I’ll take my chances;” and then you’re not in Grace. Grace is when we just simply throw ourselves at His feet. Grace says that there’s nothing that I merit. Grace says there is nothing that I can do.
When we talk about Grace I always like to talk about Israel on the shores of the Red Sea with the Egyptians right behind them, mountains on the left and right and the Red Sea in front of them. The Israelites are trapped with no place to go. Did God scream at Moses, “Tell the people to do something.” No, but rather God said, “Stand still!” Why? God would evidence His power. And as Israel by faith stood still, and didn’t try to do anything, but rather just waited for the Grace of God to open the Red Sea. And listen that’s where we are today. We are up against impossible odds of escaping. We are surrounded by the enemy, with a formidable Red Sea in front of us, and what does God say? Do nothing but BELIEVE the Gospel and God opens everything up. God breaks the chains of satanic power. God makes us a whole new person. Now verse 5.
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”
Now I don’t want someone to misconstrue the word “Hope.” Hope in Scripture does not mean “I hope it rains tomorrow because we could use some.” No that’s not the hope of Scripture. The hope of Scripture is believing in an absolute fact or truth. And that is that the Gospel is true, it’s secure, and when we believe it we can claim all the promises that God has given in His Word. It’s not something like, “Well I hope I can get there.” We know that we have eternal life. So this whole idea through the Spirit is not just the hope of righteousness but it is that bonafide assurance that when we believe the Gospel the righteousness of Christ was imputed to us, it literally became that clothing of righteousness that Adam and Eve experienced, and what we find in Isaiah 61:10:
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness,…”