July 7, 2019

God’s Precise Word and the Path of Life

Passage: Galatians 1:1-5
Service Type:

Bible Text: Galatians 1:1-5 | Preacher: Pastor Robert Altman | Series: Truth of the Gospel | Scripture Galatians 1:1-5
Title: “God’s Precise the Word the Path of Life”
There is one word I want to begin with today as we explore“thelength and width, height and depth of God’s love” (Ephesians 3:18).That word is “precision”.God’s word is precise. Hebrews 4:12 states“ For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”The word of God is “active”, “Powerful”, supernaturally surgical (sharper that any two-edge sword), and precise. When you think precision, you may think of words like “exact” or “accurate”, but I find an illustration is more helpful. Picture, with me, a tight rope stretched between two sky scrapers without a safety net below. You are part of the audience on one of the buildings. You watch the tight rope walker go across to the other roof top thinking to yourself “every step must be precise”. To your amazement on his return trip to the building you are watching from he is pushing a wheel-barrow. Now you are really thinking “this man best be exact or he is dead”. Furthering your nervous mind and aiding to your sweaty hands is the fact he invites you to get in the wheel-barrow so he can push you across. You, because you are crazy, agree to it and as he is about to push you across you say “don’t fall”. You don’t say “please don’t fall to the left or don’t fall to the right” you simply request for him not to fall. Your hope is he is precise with his foot work. With that in mind it is easy for ay Christian to fall off the precise truth of God’s word to the right where there is “legalism” or to the left where there is “liberalism”. One message on this topic will not do it justice because just as the tight-rope is thin and only occupies little space, which leads to safety on the other side, the vastness of legalism and liberalism is spread open far as the eye can see to the left and the right. Both legalism and liberalism lead to a fall and death. Liberalism and legalism present themselves in various shape, sizes, and forms. Both proclaim a better “style of true religion”. The good news is the scriptures deals with Legalism and Antinomianism (Liberalism), and rest assured the bible is the only thing that will cut to the core for you and reveal which you lean toward and how to balance your life precisely on the word of God.  Jesus taught the gate is straight and the way is narrow that leads to life and few find it, but the road to destruction is broad and many go that way (Matthew 7:13-14). The path to life is not paved in legalism or liberalism but in the holiness through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
The Christian life is a life to enjoy in the precision of scripture. All the peace, joy, comfort, fellowship, marital bliss, parental guidance, meekness, patience, and fruitfulness to be had is found in the laser sharp precision of scripture. Liberalism will promise complete freedom and legalism will promise unshakeable assurance you are right with God but both over sell and under deliver. They are forms of godliness, but deny the power of God (2ndTimothy 3:5). Which brings us to the question what is the power of God? Paul said “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). The gospel “Virgin Birth (Deity and humanity of Christ), sinless life, teachings, betrayal, scourging, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, High Priesthood, and Return of Jesus” and all those things verify, reveal, and promise is the gospel. Legalism and liberalism (Antinomianism) both chop at the root of Christianity and deny, in degrees, the full person and work of Jesus Christ who is the blessed eternal Son of God who has loved us and given Himself for us. We will speak on liberalism at a later date, because Paul’s writing to the churches of Galatia is more focused combating legalism with gospel truth.
What is legalism?
Legalism is the belief that some work can be done in order to make a person accepted by God. Good works Christians perform are done because they are accepted by God. This is grace working in us. Performing good works or doing moral things to be accepted by God is legalism. Legalism is Jesus plus or minus something. Grace working in us is seen in doing what God commands because we love and prize Him over everything. Legalism is fueled by guilt and pride.
What was going on at Galatia?
The Christians of Galatia were under pressure to hold fast to Jewish law which forbid certain meats, commanded circumcision, and promote certain holydays in order to be Christian. A form of religious legalism pressured the church to lose its God centered Christ exalting focus. They were being commanded to do things to be part of God’s people. This is one form of legalism. The “doing” of religious things to be a Christian versus doing righteous things because one is a Christian. When you follow the teaching of legalism you will find man is at the center, can-do right, and deserves glory. Therefore, man has his hand in salvation, sanctification, and preservation to some extent. If you follow the teachings of the Gospel, Jesus is at the center and all glory goes to Him for salvation, sanctification, and preservation. The teachers who were pushing Jewish observation of laws were from Jerusalem and sought to discredit Paul. This letter is Paul’s answer to the false teachers, rebuke of the Galatian church, and explanation of God’s purpose for His law and His salvation given to man through faith in Christ alone.
Paul’s Proclamation (1-5)
Combating legalism in a church is done the same way any heresy in the church is fought, with the proclamation of the gospel. Paul does not come out and explain anything at first, he simply starts from the foundation of the truth of Jesus Christ as the sufficient sacrifice of God to forgive us of our sins.
Paul first introduces himself as an apostle of Jesus by the will of God. Those who were teaching legalism had their commission from man, and Paul had his commission from God. Paul’s claim was that of greater authority than the teachers who were corrupting the church. True apostleship and authority to teach the church comes from God and not man. Paul moves from authority to Jesus who atones for the sins of man and redeems them to God. It is through Jesus who gave Himself for us that we have grace and peace from God. This statement stands in stark contrast to what the Galatians are being taught by the teachers who were troubling them. They taught “do” and be saved. Paul taught God has “done” and you are saved. He then moves to the issue of glory. Glory is due to God and Him alone for the work of salvation, sanctification, and preservation. Legalism has man sharing in the glory only due to God for these great works of grace. Paul’s proclamation sets the tone for the direction he is going with his argument that salvation is in Christ alone and not by the works of the law.
Paul’s Marveling and Curse (6-9)
The Galatians received the true gospel at first and then to Paul’s amazement turned from it to be made perfect through the deeds of the law. The trouble is not they are observing Jewish law the trouble is they are observing with the intention it will do a work that only God can do. Being circumcised, observing a diet, or keeping the feast days are not in and of themselves sinful. It was the value being put on the efforts of man to please God. The intent of the heart is the precise matter at hand. If I am kind to you hoping this will make me saved my kindness is legalism. If I am kind to you because I know I am accepted of God and love Him then my kindness is grace driven. Kindness is not the problem, but I am. Placing human ability to generate favor with God is legalism and it is what is taught more than we would like to think. Paul then moves on to attacking the merit system of man. Those coming to the Galatians are educated Jews from Jerusalem who had an impressive resume. Paul cuts through that and curses anyone, including angles who brings another gospel which is not good news at all, to them. The gospel is the measuring unit by which the church measures the truthfulness of its teachers. No one is exempt from the foundational truths of the gospel. No teacher is permitted to the work of Elder in the church except they are proven to love the gospel of Jesus Christ. The blessed gospel is the power of God. Anyone who denies it is accursed (damned).
Paul’s Desire to Please God (10-17)
Paul now points to his desire to please God while the Judaizer were simply after pleasing men. He speaks of his conversion which placed him in the ministry of Christ. He died to men pleasing at his conversion and no longer looked to approval from man because he was approved by God through Jesus Christ. He finishes this section by stating he did not go to Jerusalem to be confirmed.
Paul’s Cooperation (18-24)
Although Paul did not need to be approved by man, he nevertheless cooperated with those who were leaders in Jerusalem. He did not depend on fellowship with the lead apostles to make him a believer, but fellowshipped with them as a believer. Again, Paul is walking a fine line. He is a Christian because of Jesus, but at the same time he is seeking to cooperate with others who are saved in Jesus. He did not go to Jerusalem to be saved by the leaders, but was saved so went to Jerusalem to add to the church what God had done for him. Paul does not want to discredit believers at Jerusalem and at the same time does not want to make Jerusalem the mother church to all churches. Paul ends this section by showing the Galatians everyone knew he was a persecute of the church and now they glorify God because he has been redeemed.
What do we learn from Chapter 1?

We celebrate, rest, and Glory in the person and work of Jesus

I am glad to be a Baptist. It is the Doctrine which best adheres to the scriptural integrity. Yet I do not rest in my Baptist conviction. My blessing of grace and peace comes from Jesus alone.

Anyone Who teaches another Gospel is to be accursed

The word means “devoted to destruction”. Anyone who alters the gospel has destroyed it and is damned a vessel fitted for destruction.

Our Teaching and Lifestyle is to please God and not men.

In order to please God, we must know God and His word. Our aiming to please Him is not to appease Him, but to show our gratitude and love we have for him. The intent of the heart determines the fate of the action.

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