Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 3
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|We’re going to be looking at verses 3-5 today as we talk about the gospel of grace. The apostle Paul has stepped forward as God’s authority. You see, God’s Word has been challenged. Anytime error gets around us God’s Word is challenged, and Paul is the man. He held up his badge. He says in verse 1, “Paul, an apostle.” God’s Word is so precious and God had these men called apostles in that day. These are the ones that gave us the New Testament. The kind of apostle that the apostle Paul was, was unique in his day and non-existent in our day.|
The Gospel of Grace – Part 1
Well, turn with me to the book of Galatians, chapter 1. We’re going to be looking at verses 3-5 today as we talk about the gospel of grace. The apostle Paul has stepped forward as God’s authority. You see, God’s Word has been challenged. Anytime error gets around us God’s Word is challenged, and Paul is the man. He held up his badge. He says in verse 1, “Paul, an apostle.” God’s Word is so precious and God had these men called apostles in that day. These are the ones that gave us the New Testament. The kind of apostle that the apostle Paul was, was unique in his day and non-existent in our day.
An apostle had to be appointed by Christ Himself, as we saw the last time. Verse 1 tells us “Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by the agency of man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead.” We saw that he had to be a witness of the resurrected Christ. These apostles were so unique. In 1 Corinthians 9:1 he says, “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus, our Lord?”
The apostles were not only appointed by Christ, but they were authenticated by Christ. The way they were authenticated, we saw from Hebrews, was through signs and wonders and miracles. There’s a lot of people still looking for that pattern today. You’ll not find that pattern today. That pattern was relegated to the apostles and to Christ. Can Christ do a miracle anytime He wants? Absolutely! That’s not what I’m saying. But you don’t go looking for a pattern of signs, wonders and miracles. These were given to the apostles to show authenticity as to who they were.
But not only that, the apostles were given authority by Christ. In fact, Christ was their authority. He lived in them. He said in Matthew 28, “All authority has been given unto Me.” He doesn’t say I’m giving it to you. Oh, no! He came to live in them and to the degree they were willing to bow before Him was to the measure they would begin to experience His authority. It’s always His authority, never ours.
The whole message of God’s grace that Paul had taught them there in Galatia had been completely destroyed when they chose to listen to false teachers that had come amongst them, teaching a message of works. They chose to go back to that old works mentality. They chose religion over a relationship with Jesus Christ. Now I want you to know, and you’ll see it over and over again in Galatians, there’s no way to mix religion with Christianity. There is no way and expect to experience any of the joy, any other intimate relationships that people can have with Christ and then the relationships they can have with one another. There’s no way that can happen when you try to mix the religious works mentality with what Christianity is.
Paul begins early in his epistle, right here, what we’re going to look at today, to lay the foundation for what he’s going to build on for the rest of this whole book of Galatians. And it’s amazing to study the life of Paul. I love it. I love to study his epistles. Many people get on to me and say, “Do you ever do an Old Testament book?” Every now and then I do just to make everybody else happy, but I love the epistles.
I love the epistles. I love Paul. People say he’s an egotist. That’s ridiculous. He’s the most humble man you’ve ever read about. Here’s a man that’s been broken. Here’s a man who was blinded for three days. You think he didn’t understand a little bit about the Lordship of Christ. But what he does when he writes a book, he’s like a lawyer building a case. He has this block and then this block and then this block and then this block. And you always know that. He starts here and he begins to build all the way through.
That’s what he’s doing in the book of Galatians. And verses 3-5 are so powerful we’re going to look at today because they’re so concise. It’s a picture of what the gospel of grace really is. And I want us to read those. Every word is powerfully packed. And remember, he’s going to come back and build off these things he’s saying now, later on. Verse 3 says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.”
Now there are four things that I want us to see about the gospel of grace. Let’s just see what the gospel of grace is all about. First of all, the peace that grace provides. That’s the first thing we want to see in this message on the gospel of grace—the peace that grace provides. Look at verse 3: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Now when I study Paul’s epistles it’s amazing to me that that phrase “grace to you and peace” is found in 10 of his epistles. It’s found in Romans, it’s found in 1 and 2 Corinthians, in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and also Philemon, exactly that way, “grace to you and peace.” And it’s always in that order, grace and then peace.
Until a person experiences the saving grace of God, he cannot know peace with God. I hope we understand that. You see, man is at enmity with God. He is separated from God because of the damage of sin. When he was born into this separation, he was born into sin. This is the virus that plagues humanity. And there is no cure outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. Religion cannot begin to bridge the gap between man and God. Religion offers no peace whatsoever. But grace is all about not what man can do to reconcile the situation, but what God has done to reconcile the situation. Grace is all about Jesus coming and dying for us on a cross, paying a debt He did not owe when we owe a debt we could not pay.
Ephesians 2:8 is wonderful to help us realize that you cannot be saved by any fleshly work. It says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” So at the very moment of our receiving God’s grace, that which He has done for us, Christ comes to live within us. And when you receive Jesus, when I received Jesus into my heart, and when you received Him into your heart, you didn’t realize it and I didn’t realize it, but we were making a statement. And what we were saying is religion does not work. Religious works could not have gotten us to that place.
You see, we had to come to realize there was nothing we could do to save ourselves. And, you see, the very fact that we invited Jesus to come and live in us and trusted Him to do the saving work for us on the cross, that He’d done that immediately speaks of the fact that religion does not work. Only God’s grace saves us, and that’s saving grace.
Saving grace gives us peace with God that is unconditional. It says in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we exalt in hope of the glory of God.” Nobody, nothing, can ever disturb the relationship we have with God the Father through Jesus Christ. That is an unconditional situation. When we receive it, it can never be distorted in any way.
However, living grace is something different. We saw this in Philippians, we’ll see it beautifully brought out in Galatians. Living grace is for the believer to experience day by day. Now this is very conditional. It’s conditional upon our willingness to yield to Christ, to let Jesus be Jesus in us. This is what Paul is referring to in Galatians, because he is writing to believers who have already received saving grace. Living grace is Christ living His life in and through us. How many times have you heard that? Well you’re going to hear it a lot more. He says it in Galatians 2:20, which is a verse we have referenced from time to time.
Peter has made the foolish mistake of going back to that old religious works mentality, and Paul has to stand him up and rebuke him to his face. And he says in that context in verse 20 of Galatians 2, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives [where does He live?] in me; and the life I now live I live by faith in the One who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
You see, just as saving grace produces peace with God, living grace produces the peace of God. Now that is something that is very conditional. You may be here today and you have experienced saving grace. You’re at peace with God, but you’re not living in the peace of God because you may have made the same mistake the Galatians made. You’ve gone back to doing things your way instead of yielding to Christ. Galatians 5:22, for instance, says, “But the fruit of the Spirit,” not something you work up yourself, not a book you read or somebody you talk to or a program you watched on television. He says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love,” and then he says it’s joy and it’s peace. It’s something the Spirit of God has got to produce within us. That’s the peace of God.
Can I ask you a question? Are you living in the peace of God? Have you let it rest? Have you laid it down? Have you just simply said, “Lord Jesus, You’re in control. I just want to be obedient to You. Whatever You want is what I want.” That’s the peace of God. You already have the peace with God. But living grace is when you experience the peace of God, through Christ and only through Christ and the grace that He offers to you and I. Can we have peace first of all with God, secondly with others and thirdly, and most importantly, within ourselves? Saving grace produces peace with God; living grace produces the peace of God.
Paul is not simply greeting the believers here. So many people in commentaries pick this thing up and say he’s just giving a simple greeting. And they say, now let’s get to the meat. Oh no, no. This is God’s Word. It’s inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. Every word is powerful, it’s packed with what God wants it to say. What he’s doing is laying a foundation. He’s trying to show these believers who have lost this peace. You say, “Well, how do you know that?” Because he says, “Where is the sense of blessing that you once had?” He says over in chapter 5, “You were running well, who has hindered you?” You see, these people have turned to a religion and lost everything they could have had in their relationship, and that’s what religion does to all of us. When we choose to do it our way, we are walking away from the fullness of what we could have experienced in Christ Jesus.
He makes certain that nobody misunderstands the source of this grace of this peace in verse 3. He says, “Grace to you and peace [now watch] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Now when he uses that little phrase “from God our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ,” he uses a little preposition there for the word “from,” apo. It simply designates a source. Where’s it coming from? It’s coming from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Religion does not offer this.
But there’s something he says here that I think theologically you need to put into your cap. He points to the oneness of the godhead. In the preposition “from” governs both the Father and the Son. Don’t let me lose you here. Stay right with me. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ah, you’re still not with me. It is not from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s not what he said. He would have used two of those words—apo would have been used twice. No, sir. This is a very technical thing. When he only uses one, he pulls God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ into one. And what you see here he’s showing you that God the Father and God the Son are one and the same.
He does the same thing in verse 1 with the word “through” when he says “but through Jesus Christ [and not “through God the Father,” but] and God the Father.” There’s only one God. There is only one God in three persons. And it’s a beautiful picture there theologically of the godhead. This clearly reflects the preeminence that the apostle Paul gave to Jesus Christ being God, and he understands that and he bows before Him. Also notice the triple—just for your theological cap—notice the triple designation of Jesus. He says, “the Lord,” that expresses His rank, His exalted rank; “Jesus,” which speaks of His saving work; and “Christ,” which speaks of His divine commission.
So the peace that we’re looking for, the peace that the lost world is looking for with God, only comes by the grace of God. And once they have the peace with God, the peace that you’re looking for day by day, moment by moment, is only found in Jesus Christ.
How many times I’ve heard somebody say, “I need to get away for about three weeks. I’ve got to get my head together.” Well, the problem is, you took the problem with you. The problem is the flesh. And if the flesh is not dealt with, and if the flesh does not surrender, there will be no peace even after the three weeks you’ve taken off. You’ve got to deal with. I’ve got to deal with sin in my life. I’ve got to reckon with my flesh. And when I do then grace, God’s living grace offers me a peace that passes all understanding. So the peace that grace offers.
Secondly, the price that grace paid. Jesus is the embodiment of all grace. Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:1, he says to Timothy, he says, “Be strong in the grace that is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.” It’s only found in Him. And look what He did for us. Look at the price He paid for us. In verse 4, it says, “Who gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us.” Now, that word “gave” is in the aorist tense. That means at a certain point in time He gave Himself. That’s not only biblical, that’s historical. We know that not only here, 1 John 1:14 in His birth, but now we know that He died. He gave Himself at a certain point in time. The phrase “gave Himself” means He died, He died. It refers to His death on the cross.
In fact in verse 1, as Paul was beginning the epistle, he said, “Paul, an apostle, not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead.” The fact that He was raised from the dead means that He died. There is no resurrection without a death. The book of the Revelation gives us a look into the prophetic future of what’s going to take place I believe prior, just right, right prior to the seven years of tribulation on this earth. And now, you know where I stand. I believe the church is going to be in heaven. We will not fight. If you want to stay here, stay here. That’s your problem. But I believe the rest of us are going to go.
He takes the sealed book from the Father in Revelation 5,, and in verse 6 look what it says. “And I saw,” I love these pictures. There’s nothing that grabs me in Scripture any more than these kinds of pictures. “And I saw between the throne [this is looking to heaven for a minute] with the four living creatures and the elders, a Lamb standing as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” “Standing as if [what?] slain.” There’s your resurrected Christ in heaven right before those last days of what will take place on this earth. So Christ died. What did it cost for you and me to be here and hear this morning? Christ died. He gave of Himself. And as Galatians 1:1 says, He rose from the dead. This is the basis of our salvation.
Why in the world would Paul have to remind believers of the basis of their salvation? Oh, there’s a huge reason here. What was His attitude when Christ came to die for us? We said it was in the aorist tense, but I didn’t tell you it’s in the active voice. What does that mean? Not only did He give Himself, but He willingly gave Himself. The word didomi means to willing give something for the benefit of somebody else, the word didomi. So the active voice means that Jesus chose to die for our sins.
Now that’s incredible! If He was made to die for our sins, that’s one thing; but if He chose to die for our sin, that’s incredible. And that’s the picture that Paul draws for us. No one made Christ die for our sin. He chose. When did He make this decision to die for us? The King James Version correctly translates Revelation 13:8, and if this doesn’t touch your heart then I tell you what, this would be a great morning just to get saved. I tell you what has happened folks. We have lost the wonder and the awe of our salvation. We don’t understand why it is that we can be in here this morning and even understand the truth that God wants us to hear. It’s because of what Christ did for us on the cross and He did it willingly. He chose to do it.
Revelation 13:8 says, “That all that dwell upon the earth shall worship Him whose names are not written in the book of life, of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Do you understand what’s being said here? Jesus, in heaven, before the world had ever been created, before sin had ever become a problem on earth, stood in heaven as the Lamb saying to His Father, “Father, I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go.” He made a decision before you and I ever even thought about making a choice to sin. He chose to come and die for you and die.
Why did He give of Himself? Verse 4 says in Galatians 1, he goes on to say, “who gave Himself for our sins.” He died for our sins. Romans 3:23 says very clearly—and Romans and Galatians are commentaries on each other—he says “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” That means that doesn’t matter if you’re a Jew, that doesn’t matter if you’re a Gentile. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had all the covenants and the promises, etc., and all the religious activity. He said you died. You were born in your sin and you are a sinner. And if a Gentile, the pagan world, you can’t point a finger, every man born of woman was born into sin. We were all lost and we had no hope whatsoever.
But Christ came and gave of Himself willingly, the sinless sacrifice, the God-man for our sins. For grace to be extended to mankind it cost Christ death on the cross for our sins. If man could any way attain righteousness by any religious work, then Christ would have never had to leave the throne of glory and come down here, masking His glory in human flesh, and going to the cross and bearing our sin. The very fact that we claim to be Christians means we’re not religious, because we know what religion cannot ever accomplish. Jesus had to accomplish it for us.
The peace that grace provides, the price that grace paid, but the third thing I want you to see is the purpose that grace pictures. There’s a purpose of Him dying for our sins.” There’s a purpose here, and the picture or the portrait of it is incredible. “Who gave Himself for our sins [why?] so that He might rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father.” Now, what purpose does Christ dying for our sins accomplish? What does it accomplish for us? “Who gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us.” Now the word “deliver” is exaireo. It means to take out of. You’ve got a box of chocolates and you want to reach in and take one out of it. That’s the word exaireo, only it’s a little different than that. Ex, out of, aireo, which means to take out. It has also the choice of what is taken out. Now, I can hear the Calvinists jump up and say, “He means the elect here.” Excuse me, but he does not. And I hate to pop your little bubble. But if the choice is taken out; in other words, He didn’t choose the animals and He didn’t choose the trees and the stones and the other created things on this earth to be taken out from this bondage. He chose to deliver humanity from the present evil age.
Now this strikes the key note of the whole epistle. This is the key note of the whole epistle. He has taken us out from under something that has been pulling us down for quite a while. Christ came to die for our sins to deliver us. And from what? A state of bondage. A bondage to what? This present evil age. Now I don’t know if you’ve studied Romans or not, but Romans banks more on He saved us from the penalty of sins. Yes, He did. And He saves us from the power of sin. Yes, He did. But Galatians has a little different focus on what He came to do, which is germane to the rest of the epistle. He wants them to understand this very thing. Our sins are simply indications of our bondage, a bondage to a system of living and thinking that is found in this world.
You turn a television on, you’re listening to that system. You turn the radio on, and I hear stuff on that thing, I’m thinking good grief! Get a clue people! But, you know, it’s interesting. I love to listen to it to kind of keep up with what the system’s doing to people’s mind that are all around us. Christ not only delivered us from our personal sins, but He from the pull and the power of a system that’s around us from the way the world does what it does.
Now look carefully at this, because I’m going somewhere with it and so is Paul. Verse 4, “Who gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us [take us out from under] from this present evil age.” Now what does he mean by “present evil age”? Well, the Greek word for age is the word aion. It’s an order or a system in this context. It can be a time period, but here it’s more of the order or a system, an evil harmful way of thinking and doing. Now the same word is used over in Romans 12 in the same way in verse 2, “And do not be conformed to this world,” to that system; to the people around you, yes, but the system of thinking, the way something is done. The word “world” here is used and so therefore in Romans and in Galatians it seems to be a system, a way of thinking.
Do you realize how we have to almost be deprogrammed when we come to church to meet together in God’s work because we live for six days in a world that is totally, totally in contrast with what God says? And every time you get into the Word you’ve got to understand that your mind’s going to pull you a certain way, but you’ve been set free from that kind of bondage. You can now listen to what God says which sets you free. In this age that we live in sin prevails and therefore the law begins, belongs to this age. There’s coming an age when righteousness will prevail.
I have many of my great brothers in Christ and they say, “Oh, we’re in the millennium now.” That’s the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard on earth. How can we be in the millennium now, because, does righteousness reign? Does righteousness reign? Did you watch the news this morning? Did you watch it last night? You think righteousness rules and reigns? No, no, it doesn’t. That’s why the law is tied to this age. Why? Because if a law was given to expose sin and sin is a part of this age, righteousness does not rule.
But what he’s talking about in Galatians—and I want to make sure you hear me—there is a system in this world and he’s not negating that. But the narrow focus of what he’s talking about is not just the system of the world on the radio that you listen to. What he’s talking about is the religious system of this world. Christ not only died on the cross to deliver us from our sins, but from the religious thinking and system of this world. I don’t care where you go, the darkest part of Africa, you’re going to find religion. People will worship a tree, a stump, they’ll worship a stone if they have to, but you’re going to find a religion. And man has come up with his own way of worship. He’s come up with his own type of religion and we have been set free from every bit of it.
Verse 3 says in chapter 4. I want you to look over here because this word is used again and in another context. And when you want to know what a word means, you check the whole of what somebody’s writing of that particular book to find out how he uses it. Over in chapter 4, in verse 3, he uses the word “world” again. But he shows how narrow its meaning is in the book of Galatians. He says in chapter 4, verse 3, “So also we while we were children were held in bondage under [now watch carefully] the elemental things of the [of the what?] of the world.” There’s our word right there. The word “elemental” is a Greek word. It means row by row by row by row, or it can be translated the A-B-C’s.
Now, what is he talking about here? Alright, let’s keep on. Verses 8, 9 and 10 of chapter 4 show how the tie comes, that when the world system that he speaks of in Galatians—he’s not negating anything else, but in Galatians—is the world of religion, the way they lived, the way they think, the way they act. Look at verse 8: “However, at that time when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.” Now he points immediately to the religion they had before. These were Gentiles. These were not Jews. Everybody has a religion of some kind.
Verse 9: “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” And then to show that he’s talking about religion, look at verse 10: “You observe days and months and seasons and years” and he points them right back to the slavery they once had to religion no matter what shape or form that it took. This led him to say in verse 11,”I fear for you that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.” And Paul is describing both Jewish and Gentile religions as elemental, as ABC’s. Why? Because they’re merely human, and they will never rise to a divine level.
Thank God we’ve been set free from any religion; we been set free. We’ve been given a relationship. You see, both Jewish and Gentile religion are centered on manmade system of works. They’re all based on what man can do for God. The Pharisees even added 613 commandments. They didn’t think it was enough. We have been set free from this system by the death of Christ on the cross. What was the motive of His dying? Why, why did He give of Himself for our sins? To deliver us, to rescue us from what? From the penalty of sin, yes, and the power of sin, yes; but also from the pull and the tug of the religious mindset that’s in this present age.
As a matter of fact, if you don’t think that this religion is relegated to this present sinful age, when the Antichrist comes that will be his main ploy. It’s going to be religion. It’ll be a religious leader that will step right alongside the Antichrist that will deceive this world that’s left on this earth. Galatians 1:4 says, “Who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us, deliver us, from this present evil age.” But we’ve been set free folks. Everybody thinks freedom is the right to do what you please. No! Freedom is the power to do as you should.
I’ve been watching something on television. You know you can’t get too many good things on so I found, it’s the Discovery Channel and the Learning Channel. The Learning Channel challenges me too much, but the Discovery Channel is kind of fun. I also like that Animal Planet Channel or something. I don’t know what it is, but it’s about animals. But anyway, there’s one program that I like. They go in and they take these animals that have been deprived of food and water. It’s a beautiful thing. And this grizzly bear’s particular. When they fly over them with a helicopter and they shoot them with a hypodermic needle and the thing puts them to sleep. And they go down, it takes about 12 of them and a big net. They put them into a net and a helicopter takes it up and they put it into a cage. And then they fly it to a certain point and they drop that cage down.
And the funniest thing is when they wait for it to wake up. You want to be there when a grizzly bear wakes up? It’s noticeable how they all run and jump in the truck and they pull that thing out and that grizzly bear finally gets awake, banging on the cage. He’s like, “Who in the world has put me into bondage?” And he realizes suddenly that the door of that cage is open and he gets out. And I’ll tell you what, the way he runs is not the way he normally runs. He’ll just take off and run and throw his paws up in the air and he just thinking, “I’m free, I am free, I am free.” Now wouldn’t it be stupid if that grizzly bear decided, you know what, I think I liked it in the cage better than I like it out here, and he turned around and walked right back into that cage and let them shut it on him?
That’s exactly what the Galatians did. They had been set free from the religious mindset. They’d been set free from committee meetings where we have to come up with something and ask God to bless it. They’ve been set free from 16 different rules that makes you spiritual and if you don’t have your quiet time God’s going to kill you. They’ve been set free from that mindset. They’ve been given a relationship. Why in the world would they go back into the cage? And that’s why Paul is saying what he’s saying, “Grace has set you free. Yes, from sin; yes, from the power the sin; yes, from the world that’s around you; but particularly from the religious mindset of how they go about trying to please God by what they do, rather than how they surrender to Him.”
Now, folks, I want to tell you, this is where we live today. This is the 21st century. If we’re not walking in a relationship with God we’re constantly bombarded by what do we need to do for Him next? What’s our next act we need to perform for God? Thank God He delivered us from that mindset. I don’t know about you but I think that’s the heartbeat of Paul when he said, “I am crucified with Christ, buddy. I walked away from that mindset. Christ lives in me now.” And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go back to it. Do you want to go back to it? That’s what church can become folks if you’re not real careful. “How many did you have last week?” “Well, we had such and such.” “Well, God must not be blessing.” Oh, that’s garbage. We’ve been set free from that mindset. And those people that came under the Galatians made it look so good to them that the Galatians bought right back into it and walked right back into the cage.
Finally, the praise that grace produces. The peace that grace provides; the price that grace paid; the purpose grace pictures; but finally the praise that grace produces. He says all of this, deliverance and rescuing from the present evil age, is, “According to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.” It’s according to the will of our God and Father that we have been set free in Christ. The words “according to” is the word kata. It refers to the standard of something. Ah, it’s the measure of something. You say according to, what’s the measure? Well, according to the will of our God, not of man, but our God and Father.
The word for “will” is thelema. Thelema is a great word. According to, kata thelema. I’ve moved too quickly. You know what thelema is? It’s the divine intent that God says “this is going to happen. I’m going to get involved in it to make certain it takes place and no man, no man, will thwart the purposes of God.” That’s what the will of God is. God’s going to see it happen. God is going to see to it. And so God saw to it that you and I could be set free from the religious mindset.
Understand that Christ and the Spirit are equal to God the Father. So a better way of saying this verse perhaps would be “according to the will of God who is also our Father,” because we’ve got to remember it’s one God, who is also our Father. As our perfect Father He saw fit to deliver us from an evil system, a religious system of thinking that focuses on man and what man can do. Our freedom in Christ from this present evil world’s way of thinking and living is the divine intent of the Father. And He got involved and Jesus came and died and shed His blood on the cross so that you and I could be set free.
Do you understand what a slap in the face it is to grace when we choose to go back up under law? When we go back to measuring everything that we do, when we go back to taking the credit to giving God token glory from what we do; what a slap in the face it is for what grace really is? It was never and can never be, grace can never be and was never, according to any merit on our part. You can’t do something for God and experience His grace other than surrender to Him then you’re not experiencing His grace. Paul is insisting on the fact that we are now in the age of grace. This was the divine intent of God. This was the purpose for which Christ died on the cross and the purpose that He rose again. It’s the gospel of Christ and His death and resurrection that transfers us out from under the bondage to this present evil age, and it’s impossible demands that puts upon us.
Paul, with these wonderful thoughts in mind, bursts into praise. Now, I love this. This has happened to me many times when I’ve been preaching. Somebody says, “Did he speak in tongues?” No, we know exactly what he said. He spoke in a language that’s communicable to all of us. These people that jump off into that kind of thing to me need help. That’s not what’s happening here. What’s happening here is he turns everything back towards God. It’s almost like even when he was writing the epistle to the Galatians that Paul gets so caught up in it that he can’t stand it and he sees his own freedom. He’s been a religionist for all of his life and God had taken him out from under this and all of a sudden it dawns on him what it costs God to do this, and this was the intent that God had, a relationship, not a religion, and he breaks into praise.
And he says in verse 5, “To whom [God] be the glory forevermore. Amen.” The word for “glory” is doxa, which means the proper recognition you give to somebody once you’ve experienced it. Once you begin to understand who He is, you can then give Him the proper recognition that due to Him.
But he does something unique here, and I don’t know if I can preach it right. I don’t know if it’ll get out right. He puts the definite article before the word “glory.” And, folks, this takes us out of our mind right now. You can’t begin to understand what he just said. I don’t think Paul did. It’s under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. When he puts “the glory,” he means all of the glory, not that which man can give. Man will never be able to give God the glory He deserves. He’s talking about the glory that God deserves. He puts a definite article in front of it. A million years into heaven we’ll walk down the streets of heaven—if that’s what they are, and I don’t know; I haven’t been there yet—but we walk in heaven and when we see Him and see the marks on His hands and realize what it took to set us free from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and the religious damning mindset that infects this world, we’ll fall down on our face and we’ll praise Him for a million years and a billion years upon a million years. And all the glory, all the glory that man could never touch is what He deserves for what He has done for you and I. That’s what he’s talking about.
And Paul finishes and he says “Amen.” You know what “amen” means? We say it all the time, don’t we? Do we even know what it means? It means “may this always be so and don’t you dare think about changing it.” That’s an “amen.” The next time you say amen to your children maybe that’d be help to understand: “I have said it, that’s it.”
You understand that when Paul writes this book, folks, this is not a friendly letter. He is upset in a righteous way. Why? Because all that I’ve just preached to you they’ve taken and just thrown it over here and said we’d rather do something for God. Why in the world did they do that? Because of some deceivers that’d got amongst them and made it look good—numbers, nickels, noses—and they got back in that old religious mindset. And this is why Paul starts like he starts. He builds a foundation he will not leave; he’ll continue to build on. The church of Galatia stood guilty choosing to walk away from all that it had costs God to give them the freedom that they had, to give them the relationship with Him that they had. No wonder Paul is upset. Religion usurps the glory away from God and puts it on man.
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