NUGGETS OF WISDOM

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BELIEVING WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE

David recollected that as a young lad, with long unruly hair and a ruddy complexion, sleeping out in an open pasture under a starry sky after watching his father’s sheep all day long; how he would take his little harp and sing to the God above all gods. Looking up, he saw the sky as a huge tent with the sparkling stars as lights that lit up the night. He may have even tried to count them once or twice. But what really impressed him was that each night every star was in exactly the same place, not one of them was missing. He was so overcome with awe that he penned a hymn to the creator of that starry universe.

O my LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius, as You display Your grandeur all over the heavens for all the world to see. For through these small and tiny dots of light You communicate as a way of countering those who don’t take You seriously; yes, You do this to silence the doubter and unbeliever. When I look up into the sky and see the galaxies Your hands created, the stars and the moon You put into orbit I ask, “What role do humans play in this vast universe; why do You care and fuss over them?” Then I realized, You created them a little short of being angels; endowing them with attributes of honor and dignity; making them the smartest and most influential creatures on earth; putting them in charge to being stewards of Your handiwork, even taking care of the animals, both domestic and wild, including the birds that fill the sky and the fish that fill the sea. O LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius for all the world to see.” Psalm 8:1-9

Reflection: Back in the days of the hippy movement I sat in a coffee house in Stuttgart, Germany talking with a long-haired flower-child about God. The young man was respectful but adamant about his doubts concerning God’s existence because he couldn’t see Him or talk to Him. At that moment the Holy Spirit gave me an inspiration, so I pointed to a picture hanging on the wall beside our table and asked the young man if he believed that picture came into being due to an accidental collision of paint and paper. He laughed and said, “That’s ridiculous; that picture was painted by an artist.” I responded that I wasn’t convinced because I couldn’t see the artist in the picture; how did I know that maybe one day it just appeared on the wall by accident. The young fellow looked at me for a moment and then admitted that even though I couldn’t see the artist in the painting, I had to accept the fact that an artist painted the picture because it just makes sense. I told him that in the same way, one must exercise faith to believe an unseen talented artist created such a beautiful portrait, we can also believe an unseen God created the beauty of the universe. The magnificence of God’s creation shows His responsibility for man’s existence, and man’s responsibility to acknowledge God’s handiwork. The young man smiled somewhat embarrassingly as he bowed his head and said, “Okay, you got me on that one.” I asked him if we could have prayer for him to have faith, but he wasn’t sure. As he went away I asked the Holy Spirit to go with him and open his eyes to the truth.

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXXI)

In a sermon by Reverend Frances Keyes Aglionby, vicar of Christ’s Church, Westminster, London, published around 1906, tells the story of a well-known clergyman in the Church of England who passed away toward the close of the 1800s, who often told of meeting Charles Simeon, of Cambridge, whom he met at the house of a friend. Aglionby was asked to conduct the family worship session, as was the custom in those days, and he expounded on what Paul’s says here in Galatians 3:15.  Sometime afterward Mr. Simeon took him aside and said to him, “My young friend, you don’t seem to understand the purposes of the Law. There are three: For one, it convinces people of sin; and two, it leads them to the Anointed One; and three, it becomes their rule of life.” So, says Aglionby, when we look at it this way, the Law of God is magnified and made honorable when it fulfills these true functions in their proper order.[1]

William Ramsay shines a light on an important factor that involves God’s covenant with Abraham and the covenant initiated by the Anointed One at the Last Supper.[2] Even though God indicated to Abraham that through him all the world would come to know and worship the God of Abraham. But as Paul points out here, once that covenant was signed by Abraham’s faith and stamped with God’s promise, nothing in it could be altered, changed, or erased. So, God could not pencil in “Christians” as part of the agreement. But since the Jews were reluctant, even dismissive of allowing the Gentiles to become part of the Chosen People of Israel, then God knew that a New Covenant was needed. Just as the blood of a lamb was needed to initiate the First Covenant,[3] so that meant the blood of a new Lamb of God needed to be shed to initiate the Final Covenant.[4]

3:16 Now notice, the Scripture does not say to his “seeds,” implying all of his children and their children.  Rather, it says to his “seed” – and that, of course, can only mean the Anointed One.

 Here Paul is referring to God’s promised son of Abraham. But he would not be just a son, but he is the son who would inherit the Land of Canaan as his land, which he would then pass on to his children and their children.[5] So in gratitude, Abraham built an altar to ADONAI in gratitude to commemorate ADONAI’S visit to him.[6] But Paul was applying this to the spiritual family of Abraham, and that Promised Seed was Jesus the Messiah. And when He would be born to the Virgin Mary, through Him all of those who become part of the Family of God would also receive His inheritance of eternal life and heavenly riches.

This was not a new thought to Paul, for he also wrote to the Corinthians about the family, or body, of the Anointed One, showing how we all represent certain individual parts of the body but each one is just as important as the other.[7] And to the Romans Paul points out that many, many people now belong to the Anointed One by virtue of redemption and calling, nevertheless, they all form one body, which is the Anointed One’s Body.[8] Also when writing the Colossians, Paul uses the same word-picture.[9] Then he points out to the Galatians that even though there were many Jewish and Gentile converts who were raised in different cultures, in the Anointed One they were one and the same because the Anointed One is the same thing to everyone.[10] He is in all of us to the same degree.[11] Paul uses that same metaphor when writing to the Ephesians, and there he likens the Body of the Anointed One in a fashion that can be seen in the Church. [12] In fact, later on in Ephesians Paul would say that the Body of the Anointed One is the Church.[13]

Paul continues in verse sixteen by narrowing his focus on one word.  On this one word, says Paul, hang all the benefits of all the promises God made with Abraham and intended for his spiritual heirs. Paul recalls God’s words in Gen 22:17 and emphasized the singular noun “seed.” In other words, all of God’s promises to Abraham were not given to his descendants en-mass for them to claim and interpret as they wished, but to one descendant, and only one, and that One is Jesus the Messiah.

Now not all Jews down through the centuries agreed with Paul in his application of Abraham’s seed as the Anointed One. In fact, Rabbi Isaac ben Abraham of Troki opined that Paul, who was fluent in Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and the local language of Tarsus, among others, was ignorant of the Hebrew and that led him to come to a wrong conclusion about the “seed” here in verse sixteen as being a reference to the Messiah – who by the way, was not prophesied to engender children of His own. Rabbi Abraham points to Genesis 13:15, where it says that this promise would be to this “seed” and to the “seeds” of the “seed.” Furthermore, in Genesis 13:16, that those “seeds” would be like the dust of the earth. This, of course, relates to the numbers of individuals, and not to a single individual.

Again, we find in Genesis 15:5 that Yahweh invited Abraham out of his tent to look up into the night sky and count the stars, God said to Abraham, that’s how many your “seed” will end up producing through his “seeds.” Added to that, Rabbi Abraham adds that upon further examination, these “seeds” would become strangers in a country that did not belong to them. and they would be there for four hundred years.[14] Says Rabbi Abraham, these examples should be sufficient because they match similar ones found in various parts of Scripture. So, it is clear that this gives ample proof that the term “seed,” in the promise given to Abraham, refers to an entire nation, not to just one person.[15]

There are other places where Rabbi Abraham disputes the claims made by Paul and Christians down through time about the Anointed One is the seed that God promised him.[16] But our dear Rabbi is making the same mistake that Jesus accused the Pharisees and Sadducees of making. For instance, when the Sadducees came to talk about marriage in heaven, Jesus told them they were wrong because they did not know the Holy Scriptures or the power of God.[17] And here in Galatians, Paul was frustrated by the fact that the believers in Galatia tossed away his spiritual explanation of many sayings by the Torah and Prophets and went back to the legal explanation that fit the Law, not Grace. To put this another way, if we let the Torah be represented by the Tablets on which the Commandments were written, Paul was saying that they only saw the writing on the surface but not that which was below the surface. The reason being is because the under-surface portion can only be seen by the spiritual eyes of faith. I wouldn’t say that Rabbi Abraham was any less intelligent than Nicodemus, but when he came to Jesus to get the Kingdom of God explained to him, Jesus told him that he wouldn’t be able to understand until his spiritual eyes were opened by being born again.

I thank God for Paul’s insistence in trying to get these Judaizers and misguided Gentile believers to see the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Once again, he brings Abraham in as the focal point so they can see that Gentile and Jewish believers enjoy equal spiritual rights in God’s family.  The main issue Paul kept addressing over and over, involved the totally mistaken view of the Judaizers that Gentiles can only obtain such equality by keeping the religious rituals and regulations of Judaism passed on by Moses, and passed down by their Jewish Patriarchs. The truth is, however, that God gave them these rights through Abraham, before Moses and the Patriarchs ever existed, in response to Abraham’s obedience to His Word; which the Gentiles now receive by their faith and obedience to Jesus the Anointed One.

Underlying Paul’s basic argument here is another aspect of man’s relationship with God and what the Almighty hopes everyone will know in order to understand their place in His kingdom. Through His promise to Abraham, God initiated a method for people who were not His children by way of the flesh (the Gentiles), to become His people by way of the spirit (Christians), without becoming Jews. It addresses the problem between Paul and the Jewish community on how to treat Gentile believers.

Paul knew that nowhere in the Torah does it say that a man is justified by his own good deeds under Mosaic Law, rather, he is considered righteous. So, all of the religious rituals and regulations that the Judaizers were wanting to impose on the Gentile believers was their version of sanctification; a way to make oneself holy and acceptable to God by their own efforts. What really got Paul’s riled up was the fact these Judaizers also tried to make this mandatory as a way of validating the Gentile’s salvation through the Anointed One.

Paul initiates his presentation by making a legal point from civil law on how one person enters an agreement with another person: that once a contract is signed, sealed and delivered, the person who sent it cannot change their copy on their own, and the person who received it cannot one-sidedly alter their copy either. But Paul raises it to a higher level with his illustration of Abraham because the Greek word Paul uses for “contract,” is the same word used in Latin or “Last Will and Testament.”

Can you imagine the impact on Christianity if the apostles insisted after John wrote his Gospel, that he rewrite 3:16 this way: “For God so loved the world that all those who show faith in His only begotten Son by observing all the Jewish religious rituals and regulations can avoid sure condemnation by earning everlasting life?” That clearly violated the accepted principle that after the author of a last will and testament dies the beneficiaries cannot change it to suit their expectations or wants. But that’s what the Judaizers were trying to do with God’s promise to Abraham.

[1] Thomas Arnold, F. D. Maurice, John Burgon: Church Pulpit Commentary (12 vol. Now In One) (Kindle Location 79102-79112). Delmarva Publications, Kindle Edition.

[2] Matthew 26:28

[3] Exodus 15:1-8; cf. Hebrews 9:18-20

[4] William M. Ramsay: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 351-352

[5] Genesis 13:15-16. Cf. 15:5; 17:7-8; 21:12; 22:17-18; 26”3-4; 28:13-14

[6] Ibid. 12:7

[7] 1 Corinthians 12. 27

[8] Romans 12:5

[9] Colossians 2:19

[10] Galatians 3:28

[11] Ibid. 3:11

[12] Ephesians 4:15-16

[13] Ibid. 5:32

[14] Genesis 15:13

[15] Chizzuk Emuna: by Rabbi Isaac ben Abraham, Part 2, Ch. 90,  p.111

[16] Ibid. Part 1, Ch. 13, p. 39

[17] Matthew 22:29

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POINTS TO PONDER!

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Why do some people place more value on something they have but seldom use, rather than on something they could use but don’t yet possess? Can it be they cherish the object they rarely use and don’t want to give it up, and are unwilling to invest the time and effort needed to acquire what they don’t have but really need? A friend of an elderly man was visiting him and noticed an old clock on the wall. It was pretty and decorative but the pendulum was not moving for it to keep time. The old man told his friend that it broke down years ago and he hasn’t taken the time to get it fixed. “But,” said the senior citizen, “at least it gives the correct time twice a day!”

The same goes for how and why we do things. A young girl was watching her mother put a pork loin roast into a kettle and then in the oven. Even though the pot was large, her mother still cut off a portion before placing it in the container. So, she asked, “Mom, why do you cut off a part of the roast before you put it in the oven?” Her mother replied, “Because that’s the way my Mom always did it.” “But why,” inquired the girl? The mother said, “You’ll have to ask your grandmother.” So, the girl called up here grandmother and was told that she did the same thing because her mother did it. But she asked “Why?” the grandmother did know. It just so happened that the great-grandmother was still around, so the girl called her and asked the same question. The great-grandmother replied, “Because my roasting pan was too small so I cut off what was needed to make it fit.”

It isn’t a matter of not being up-to-date, it involves not being out-of-date. This is especially true of God’s Word. The world’s morals have sunk to an incredibly low standard if we can even call it a standard. When they are directed to the Bible and told what God said, they brush it off as being unrealistic and unnecessary. What they don’t know is that God did not give those instructions just to keep you out of trouble, but to get you into heaven.[1] Jesus made it clear when He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,”[2] and “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!”[3] So never think the Bible is outdated or irrelevant, it is a living document.[4] – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Matthew 7:21-23

[2] John 14:15

[3] Luke 11:28

[4] 1 John  1:1-2

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

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IN HIS TIME

Decades ago, whenever world-renown infidel Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll would deliver one of his lectures against religion and the Bible, his fame and oratorical ability always assured him of large crowds of both admirers and skeptics.  Although he was the son of a Congregational minister, his father’s own liberal thinking clashed with those of the conservative congregation and this ignited the flame of doubt in young Ingersol’s mind. Even though he was a civil war veteran and trained as a lawyer, he found his most popular forum was that of bashing politics, the clergy, and the Bible.

Sometimes he attracted crowds numbering over 50,000. After one very inflammatory speech in which he severely attacked people’s faith in God, he dramatically took out his pocket watch and said loudly, “I’ll give God a chance to prove that He exists and is almighty; I challenge Him to strike me dead within 5 minutes!” A dead silence came over the stunned audience; as the time ticked away people began to grow uneasy. Some left the hall, unable to take the nervous strain, and the increasing suspense caused one woman to faint. At the end of the allotted time, the atheist exclaimed derisively, “See!  There is no God. Look, I’m still alive!” After the lecture, a young fellow saw a Christian lady he knew and said to her, “Well, Ingersoll certainly proved something tonight!” Her reply was memorable. “Yes, he did,” she said. “He proved God isn’t taking orders from atheists.”

When my father told this story as part of a sermon, he ended it this way, “The Christian lady replied, ‘Yes, he did.  He proved you cannot exhaust God’s patience in 5 minutes.’”  Either way, God’s patience proves to be more powerful than any weapon the enemy might throw at His people. Miracles may happen in a second, but that moment has been in preparation for years before the hand of God brings it into reality. Some consider childbirth to be a miracle, but it takes as much as nine months before it comes to pass.

So often believers want God to act or react within seconds after the ungodly make their threat. But it helps to remember how God chose to wait over 400 years before bringing His children out of Egypt; Moses had to herd sheep in Midian before God sent him back down into Egypt to lead them out. He allowed David to run for years from Saul before letting him become king; He caused Hezekiah to experience tremendous fear and anxiety before bringing the threat of invasion against him to an end. It all worked out according to God’s will and purpose, and that’s what counts in the long run.

We all may become frustrated with God’s method of dealing with our enemies, but never make the mistake of trying to outguess our Heavenly Father. He only acts at His own appointed time as part of His plan for this world, its inhabitants, and His children. So, if something doesn’t happen as you want it to when you want it to, don’t get discouraged, it wasn’t part of His plan. Remember, all things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.[1] – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Romans 8:28

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXX)

The Contextual Bible goes on to say that the way of Faith is very different from the way of the Law. The Law does not require faith or dependence on God, and in fact, does not involve faith. It requires total human strength and conscientious effort, for it says in Leviticus that a person will be given life forever if they obey every single law of God, without one slip. This, of course, is a humanly impossible task. But the Anointed One brought us out from under the doom of that impossible system, by taking God’s curse against lawbreakers upon Himself. He could never be cursed of God because He kept the Law perfectly and earned the life and blessings that come from the Law – and yet God’s curse did come upon Him when He was hung upon the wooden torture stake.

This should not be surprising because in the same Law in Deuteronomy it says: “Anyone who is hanged on a tree is under God’s curse.[1] The purpose was to pacify the Law’s demand for the curse to be lifted from off the heads of lawbreakers and to pay its penalty, to pay for all its claims against lawbreakers and give the bill to the Anointed One so He could pay the ransom for those who put their faith in Him, to remove the distinction of being God’s chosen people that the Jewish nation alone possessed, so that God can now bless the non-Jews too with the blessing He promised to Abraham. And because of their faith in the Anointed One Jesus, therefore, all of us, Jews and non-Jews, can now receive God’s powerful life-giving Spirit which He promised for all those having faith.[2]

3:15 My dear brothers and sisters let me draw an analogy from everyday life in everyday language. Once someone signs a binding contract with another person, they cannot individually amend it or void it. The same is true in this case. God made a promise to Abraham and to his child.

Paul now takes an example from everyday life and applies it to the Galatians’ spiritual life. He points out that a signed contract between two entities cannot be altered or amended by any one of them without the other party’s approval. Then the Apostle Paul points out that since God gave a promise to Abraham and Isaac, God was not going to change anything without Abraham’s approval and vice versâ. Paul was not questioning this principle, he was only using it as an example for the Galatians to understand that God stands by His word.

The term: “language of men,” a compound phrase of the Greek verb legō (“to speak”), the preposition kata (“according to”), and the noun anthrōpos (“ordinary people”). Putting something this way was not new to Jewish Rabbis (Masters) and Ravs (Teachers). When Paul was taught the oral teachings of Judaism, he no doubt heard this phrase, “The Torah uses the language of men.”[3] And in another place, Rabbis were talking about contracts between owners and those hiring animals for farming, milking, etc. When trying to explain certain policies, one listener to the Rabbi asked: “Now, if what you say agrees with our view, we do not say that the Torah employs human phraseology; but, on the other hand, when we do agree that the Torah is employing human phraseology, what do you say”?[4]

Then again, Rabbis were discussing the resurrection and that the Holy One, blessed be He, knows the future of those whom He resurrects. The Rabbi points out that it was taught by Rabbi Eliezer, son of Rabbi Jose, that resurrection cannot be reasoned as a fact from reading the Torah. In fact, Rabbi Eliezer misinterpreted his Torah and that his theory got no closer to finding the truth by maintaining that resurrection is not a Biblical doctrine. However, it is written that any individual who does something wrong intentionally, that person will be cut off from this world and the world-to-come because of their contempt for the Word of Adonai.[5] That’s when Rabbi Papa inquired if they really understood whether or not individuals cut off from this world were also cut off from the world-to-come? They might then reply that “The Torah employs human phraseology.”[6]

And on one other occasion, the Rabbis were discussing where murderers should be caught and executed in the city where they went for refuge or when they purposely or accidentally left the city of refuge? The delineation was between those who committed murder and those who were guilty of manslaughter. One of the Rabbis said that he didn’t find any difficulty here. For him, the statute applied equally except for the fact that slaying the murderer was in order but not for someone banishment from their country as punishment for being found guilty of manslaughter. That’s because the view found in the Torah occasionally used popular “figures of speech.”[7]

When put all together, I get the impression that what the terms language of men, human phraseology, and popular figures of speech – terms that the English translators of the Babylonian Talmud used, might be phrased as “street language” today in the Modern American English vernacular. In other words, how people on the street would say something in everyday lingo to ordinary people. That, of course, opens the door to any listener to understand it the way they perceive it.

This would not be the first or last time Paul would use this phrase when it came to explaining or drawing an analogy of every life explained in everyday language to make a spiritual point. In fact, he would write to the Roman believers about how they were freed from the bondage of sin, and he told them, “I speak with words easy to understand because your human thinking is shallow.”[8] The Complete Jewish Bible renders it: “I am using popular language because your human nature is so weak.” I would prefer the following, based on Paul’s use of the Greek noun asthenia: “Because it’s hard for you to understand,” even though Thayer in his Greek lexicon chose the “weakness of human nature.”

And on the subject of the resurrection, Paul told the Corinthians. It’s a fact that every day I feel like dying just as much as I’m thrilled at your growth in the Lord. And what value was there in fighting wild beasts – those people in Ephesus – if it was only for what I gain in this life down here? If we will never live again after we die, then we might as well go and give ourselves a good time: let us eat, drink, and be merry. What’s the difference? Who knows, tomorrow it might all come to an end and they are right we’ll find out that living right all this time meant nothing![9] Paul’s reference to those people in Ephesus was a backhanded compliment to people who were so carnally-minded they didn’t understand a thing when he spoke to them about spiritual matters. That was not a language they were familiar with. Believe me, things have not changed in the 21st century.

Martin Luther shares his thoughts on verse fifteen. He notes that after what Paul said in the previous verses of a well-accepted argument, Paul now offers another based on the similarity between a person’s testament and God’s Testament. Luther admits that a human’s testament seems too weak a premise for the Apostle to argue from in confirmation of so important a matter as justification. I believe, says Luther, we ought to prove earthly things by heavenly things, and not heavenly things by earthly things. However, where the earthly thing is a regulation of God, we may use it to prove divine matters. For instance, in Matthew the Anointed One Himself argued from earthly to heavenly things when He said: “If you who are earthly know how to give good things to your children. How much more will your Heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him?”[10] [11] Today, this practice of using everyday occurrences in making a frame fitted for the word-picture being painted from Scripture for the listeners is well documented. Illustrations have become part of many sermons and teachings.

John Trapp (1601-1669), an English Anglican Bible commentator who became identified with the Puritan movement, tells us a story about an incident that illustrated what Paul said about how no one on their own can change a contract sign by another. There was an attorney named William Tracy, Esquire, high sheriff of Gloucestershire, England, during the 22nd and 23rd years King Henry VI’s reign, who wrote in his will, that neither his funeral or interment was to be the cause of making a spectacle out of the situation. He also says he would forego any Mass at the Church. And further, that he trusted in God only, and hoped by Him to be saved, and not by any saint. When this gentleman died, his son as executor brought the will to the Bishop of Canterbury to be validated, which was then shown to the Assembly. Upon reading the will, they declared that he be taken out of the ground and be burned as a heretic.[12] That was ridiculous! Even Williams’ son knew that he possessed no such authority to change his father’s will. The same is true of our heavenly Father’s will in which we are included.

George B. Stevens (1854-1906) comments on Paul claiming no divine inspiration in verse fifteen as he tries to define how people enter into a covenant with each other. Apparently, it was a commonplace occurrence in Paul’s day, otherwise, he would not have said it came from everyday life.[13] Paul is intending to show the superiority of the covenant of promise with Abraham to which the Law was subordinate. This would be what is called an “a fortiori” argument, meaning that if a covenant made between two people is so binding, then how much more will a covenant between God and people be even more binding.

Then Stevens notes that the Greek noun diathēkē is a proper translation of the Hebrew noun bĕriyth which both signify a solemn compact or agreement. Only twice in the King James Version is diathēkē translated as “testament.”[14] This came about because, in the Latin Vulgate, it was translated as “Testamentum” and thereby passed into common usage as an English equivalent. But the Revised Standard Version corrects this by translating it “will” as in “Living Will” or “Last Will.” The New American Standard Bible renders it, “covenant.” But Dr. Stevens, with whom I agree, calls this an inaccuracy when applied to what is now called “The New Testament.” This Final Covenant is more than just a will or testament, it is a binding, unchangeable, agreement that neither time, conditions, religion, mankind, or God will ever change. Furthermore, a last will or testament can only be probated by the executor when the testator of the will dies. As far as we know, God is not dead.[15]

[1] Deuteronomy 21:23 – NIV

[2] Aiyer, Ramsey. On Galatians, Kindle Locations 252-264

[3] Babylonian Talmud: Seder Kodashim, Masekhet Kerithoth, folio 11a

[4] Ibid. Seder Nezikin, Masekhet Baba Mezi’s, folio 94b

[5] Numbers 15:30-31

[6] Ibid. Masekhet Sanhedrin, folio 90b

[7] Ibid. Masekhet Makkoth, folio 12a

[8] Romans 6:19

[9] 1 Corinthians 15:31-32

[10] Matthew 7:11

[11] Martin Luther: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 78

[12] John Trapp: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 581

[13] Translated as such by the New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), New Century Version (NCV), New English Translation (NET), and Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

[14] Hebrews 9:16,17

[15] George B. Stevens: Shorter Exposition of Galatians, op. cit., pp. 132-133

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXIX)

Therefore, the blessings received by the redeemed are found in partaking of the Anointed One’s fullness, which results in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The power of the indwelling Spirit is measured according to one’s faith. That is to say, even though much spiritual oil is available, it depends on the size of the container one has that will determine the amount to be received for use. This is the oil that was poured upon the head of the church – His Body, which ran down to the members of His body; to the skirts of His garment.[1] That’s why we should develop equal understanding and dependence upon each of the persons of the Trinity: Upon the Father, as He provided the Redeemer, and upon the Son, who paid the price of redemption, and upon the Holy Spirit who made the purchase of the redeemed.[2]

Having stated in verse eight above that the Holy Scriptures said long ago that God would also save the people who are not Jews from the punishment of sin, the Scriptures said that Abraham already received the Good News that through him all nations would be blessed. Now here in verse fourteen, the Apostle Paul gives the final outcome of that promise by declaring that because of the price the Anointed One Jesus paid, the good things that came to Abraham might come to the people who are not Jews. And by putting their trust in the Anointed One, they would receive the Holy Spirit He promised to them.

Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889 AD), examines these promises more closely, and believes they formed yet another trial of Abram’s faith; since he was not only going as a stranger into a foreign land but was at the time, childless. The promise that he was to “be a blessing,” implied that blessing would, so to speak, be identified with him through his offspring. Therefore, happiness or unhappiness would flow from the relationship that people would develop with Abram. On the other hand, from the peculiar terms “them that bless you,” in the plural, and “curse him who curses you,” in the singular,[3] we conclude that the Divine purpose of mercy embraced many, “of all nations, races, and languages,” says Edersheim”

Then Edersheim looks at the great promise, “In you will all families of the earth be blessed,” as something that went far beyond the personal assurance, “I will make your name great.”[4] It resumed and made more definite the previous promises of final deliverance, by identifying Abram as the spring from which the blessing was to flow. Viewed in this light, all mankind appears as many families with the same father. As a result, they would be united in a common blessing in and through Abram. Repeated again and again in the history of Abram, this promise was contained already at the outset the whole fullness of the Divine purpose of mercy in the salvation of men. That was the prediction to be fulfilled: “May God make Japheth great. Let him live in the tents of Shem. And let Canaan be his servants.”[5] And that’s exactly where the Israelites ended up after their deliverance from Egypt. It was important enough for Peter to mention it in his sermon after healing the man at Gate Beautiful,[6] and for Paul to refer to it here in Galatians.[7]

Aaron M. Hills (1847-1935), in commenting on what was the evangelical perspective in his day of what is called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, mentions that the great evangelist Dwight L. Moody stated that it starts by asking God to forgive us our sins and anoint us with power from on high. This will not happen until we are emptied of self, pride, and worldly thoughts.[8] And in the same book, Moody believes firmly that the moment our hearts get rid of pride, selfishness, ambition, self-seeking, and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will come and fill every corner of our hearts; but if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and self-seeking and pleasures of the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God.[9] This, says Hill, is why, if you desire for the Holy Spirit to come with power, your will must crown Jesus Lord of all, and our all must be laid upon His altar.

Hill continues by teaching that after you did all the things suggested, you may still miss the blessing unless you take one more step. Five times the Holy Word tells us that we receive the sanctifying blessing by “faith.” That’s what Paul is saying here in verse fourteen. In other words, when you were a sinner, you were finally able to comprehend and accept the Anointed One as your Savior for Salvation by faith. Likewise, now you are to receive the Holy Spirit by faith as your Sanctifier for Sanctification. By that same simple faith, you can count yourself dead to sin, but alive to God.[10] Not only will God approve of your actions but consider them valid and rewarding.

Hill goes on to say that we cannot believe until we first take the necessary steps just mentioned. But if you really took them, then you are planted on higher believing ground. God will slay the “old self” within you, and make you “dead to sin.” Believe that from now on you are “alive to holiness and God.” The simplicity of all of this causes some people to stagger, stumble, and fall before they receive the blessing of the indwelling Holy Spirit to be spiritually alive, but also the empowering Holy Spirit to serve your Lord and Master, the Anointed One.[11] This should make us all wonder why then the Galatians were so quick to forsake this higher ground of Grace and return to the Valley of Despair under the Law.

American Methodist minister and leading evangelist for the holiness movement, Mr. Beverly Carradine (1848-1931), agrees that it is through faith we are converted. It is through faith we received a pardon of our sins and made right with God. And it is through faith we come into the blessing and enjoyment of sanctification. He offers as proof what Paul says here in verses 2, 3, 11, and 14. It is based on the question of whether the Galatians received the Holy Spirit by the works of the Law, or by faith after hearing the Gospel preached by Paul? This sets up the next question of why were they being so foolish after having begun in the Spirit, they were now trying to become perfect by good deeds done in accordance with the Law. Didn’t they remember Paul’s message, “The just shall live by faith?”

But that leads to another question, why should they live by faith? The answer, Paul tells them, is so that the blessings of Abraham might be shared with them as Gentiles through Jesus the Anointed One. But even more, that they might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. In other words, being in the possession of the Holy Spirit is not something you can buy at the local Christian bookstore. It is not a liquid that you drink. In fact, it is not even visible to the naked eye for you to examine before allowing it to enter your life. Your reception of the Holy Spirit can only be by Faith. And what is Faith? It is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.[12]

For Carradine, this whole passage is remarkable. But his attention is caught by the last line. What is this promise of the Spirit that was to be received through faith? It could be nothing less than the blessing of sanctification which the Anointed One told His disciples to tarry for at Jerusalem after His ascension! The key was that they were to “wait” for the “promise of the Father.” In the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, it tells us that they received it, and it came as a promise through faith.[13] So not only were the Galatians turning their backs on the gift of Grace that set them free from the burden of the Law, but they were also throwing away the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which was the sanctifying part of the promise.

Leading American prophecy professor J. Dwight Pentecost presents an interesting commentary on how, when, or if the church is not fulfilling Israel’s new covenant in order to inherit the blessings promised to Abraham, as Paul says here in verse fourteen. First, we see that the term Israel is not used anywhere in Scriptures for any but the physical descendants of Abraham. Now, since the church today is composed both of Jews and Gentiles, it would be impossible for the church to fulfill these promises made to an earthly nation. The second thing is, in the Anointed One’s Final Covenant, there are spiritual blessings and promises as well as earthly blessings. While the Church, like Israel, is promised salvation, the forgiveness of sin, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, yet, the Church is never promised an inheritance of a physical piece of land in the Middle East or anywhere else, in addition to material wealth or rest from persecution and repression. Those were promises made to Israel, not the church.[14]

The third factor is that the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant is by faith without being under any obligation to adhere to the First Covenant. Then there is the time element contained within the covenant with Israel that cannot be fulfilled and realized until after the period of Israel’s tribulation and her deliverance by the advent of the Messiah. While the Church certainly went through periods of persecution and hardships, it never passed through the great tribulation of prophecy. There is no doubt that the Church is not in the millennial age.[15] This clearly indicates that this covenant can only be realized after the second coming of the Messiah to set us His millennial kingdom. Therefore, says Pentecost, the promises made to Israel are yet in the future, so how can the Church now be fulfilling this covenant of which Paul speaks?[16]

In one commentary on Galatians, the writers make an outstanding point by saying that when justification is obtained by good works, then people judge whether or not it is real and effective. But when justification is received by faith in the Anointed One, then God is the Judge who validates it as approved by Him. But God left a side-door open for anyone who thinks they can keep every statue in the Law to perfection. Of course, that never happened and will never happen, except in one case. God incarnated as Yeshua of Nazareth went through that door and successfully completed the task. That’s when He became the door to justify anyone being able to enjoy a right standing with God. So, our fellowship with God is not based on our being accepted by the church, but being accepted by God.[17]

I like the way the Contextual Bible puts verses 10-14 into clear focus. It begins by saying that those who depend on their conscientious obedience to God’s Law to be guiltless and righteous, are under God’s condemnation, cursed to be cut off from God, because the Scriptures point out very clearly, “God’s curse is upon anyone, who at any time, breaks a single one of these rules that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” Moreover, it is clear that no one can ever be righteous in God’s sight by trying to keep His Law, because the prophet Habakkuk says, “The righteous person is one who will receive eternal life, the life from God, flow into him because of his faith.”

[1] Cf. Psalm 133:2

[2] Jonathan Edwards: Wisdom of God, pp. 1059-1060

[3] Genesis 12:3In

[4] Ibid. 12:2

[5] Ibid. 9:27

[6] Acts of the Apostles 3:25

[7] Alfred Edersheim, The Bible History, Old Testament, Vol. 1, Part 1, Ch. 11, p. 71

[8] Dwight L. Moody: Secret Power,  Published by Fleming H. Revell Company, New York, 1881, p. 29

[9] Ibid. p. 20

[10] Romans 6:11

[11] Aaron Merritt (A. M.) Hills, Pentecostal Light, Ch. 2, pp. 21-22

[12] Hebrews 11:1

[13] Beverly Carradine: Sanctification, Ch. 11, p. 51

[14] See Deuteronomy 28:1-8

[15] Romans 11:26-27

[16] Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Kindle Location 2403-2418). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[17] Martin, Ralph P.; Lane, William L.; Morris, Leon. The Shorter Letters of Paul: Galatians to Philemon (Open Your Bible Commentary, New Testament Book 8) (Kindle Location 608-618). Creative 4 International. Kindle Edition.

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXVIII)

So, how could anyone think they could add any worth to God’s salvation for which the highest price was paid? Paul states emphatically: The Anointed One redeemed us, meaning: “Paid the ransom,” or paid the “price of recovery” so we were no longer held hostage under the curse of Mosaic Law. Did He do it with money?  Did He do it with good deeds? Did He do it by bargaining with God? No! He traded places with us; then suffered the consequences of the death sentence meant for us. He paid with His life. There is no higher price.

In making his point Paul again quotes from the Scriptures by citing Deuteronomy: “If someone committed a crime worthy of death and is executed and hung on a tree, the body must not remain hanging from the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone who is hung is under condemnation from God.”[1] I can hear the Apostle Paul saying under his breath as he writes, Don’t you realize that God already planned the death of His Son on the cross when He inspired Moses to write these words?  Did Jesus’ body not come down off the cross before the day was over and buried? Yes! What crimes did Jesus commit? None! They all belonged to you and me! How in the world do you expect to add anything to make that better? Good Lord! If you Galatians don’t get it now, you never will! What Jesus did for us is priceless!

I’m sure the Jews picked up on the hidden truth existing in Paul’s use of the word “redeemed.”  This word owes its origin to the practices of ancient warfare. After a battle, the victors took captives from the defeated foe. From among the defeated, they sold the poorer ones to their own people as slaves, but those privileged members of society who were captured; those who mattered most to their home country, they held for ransom. After people in their homeland raised the required price, they paid it to the victors and freed the captives. They called the process “redemption” and called the price “ransom.

But just in case the misled Gentiles didn’t get it, Paul points out that God included them in His redemption, so that the blessing of Abraham extended to Gentiles as well. So, both the poor (Gentiles) and privileged (Jews) received identical treatment. That’s why in Paul’s letter to the believers in Colossæ he said: “In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. the Anointed One is all that matters and He lives in all of us”[2]

But that’s not all, you hardheaded Galatians, while there exists no way to improve on nor add value to the Anointed One’s ransom for our redemption – something no other heavenly or earthly being was qualified to pay, it opened the door for an added promise. Paul describes it as something God promised to Abraham, which is only available from Him through His Holy Spirit.

This portion of verse fourteen gave rise to many different interpretations by translators and theologians.  But to save time and a lot of head-scratching, putting it in context and tuning in to Paul’s streaming thought up to this point, it appears that Paul repeats the same concept he shared here later in chapter three, verses two and three. Mosaic Law offered them nothing but slavery and an impossible task trying to avoid the inevitable sentence of death. But through Jesus the Anointed One alone, the Spirit brings them everything God promised to Abraham and all those who follow his example of faithful obedience to God’s Word.

Since we cannot add anything to the price the Anointed One paid for our salvation, that means it is paid in full; and since we cannot improve on the work of salvation to make ourselves more presentable and of higher value to God; and since everything we are, and everything we do, and everything we accomplish, and everything we bring to Him He receives through the Anointed One, what motivates us then to live for Him? Why should we let our light shine for Him? What good does it do to be the salt of the earth for Him? And what do we accomplish by glorifying Him before the world around us to give Him honor? We do it all in love and out of love for His Love in gratitude for His loving redemption that freed us from the prison of sin.

John Calvin touches on a point that confuses some people but not on purpose. He raises the first question by asking, how could the spotless Lamb of God take our sins upon Himself and become a sinner so that He could pay the price for our redemption? Not only that but how could God’s beloved Son be cursed by His Heavenly Father? Calvin believes there are two things to consider when we examine His divine nature and His human nature. How could the Anointed One the Son of God take our place as sinners on the cross and yet remain the spotless Lamb of God who was dying so that His blood could remove the stains of all the things, we did wrong? Furthermore, how could He reconcile His Father with us since He endured God’s wrath and displeasure because of sin?

These are tough questions to answer, but Calvin believes the answer can be found in that the Anointed One did all the things that pleased His Father in heaven.[3] It was necessary for Him to redirect the wrath of God meant for us to be focused on Him instead. If He failed to do this, there would be no shield to protect us from God’s wrath. It needed to be Him, none of us would survive such a test. That’s why Isaiah the prophet proclaimed that He was wounded for our transgressions.[4] Only the Anointed One could deal with an angry Judge who felt no urge to show us any mercy. It doesn’t seem to make sense. That’s why Paul said that to the world the Anointed One’s death on the cross was “foolishness” [an absurdity],[5] but admired by the angels.[6] Not only does this exceed, but it swallows up all the wisdom of the world.[7]

William Burkitt (1650-1703) makes a very outstanding point here about the Messiah taking sin’s curse meant for us upon Himself, and paying the full price for our release. Once the Messiah completed His task of redeeming us, He didn’t just walk away and tell us to go and sin no more. He not only intended to appease the wrath of God and tell us to then enjoy life. No! Because of what Jesus the Anointed One did the blessing God promised to Abraham was given to all people. The Messiah died so that by believing in Him we could receive the Spirit that God promised. And, furthermore, that Spirit was not just on-call but took up residence in our hearts to be with us constantly to guide, promote, provide, and protect us as we travel through the minefield of sin. So, we not only must thank Jesus for what He did for us on the cross and by coming out of the grave, but what He does for us each and every day we live for Him.[8]

British theologian John Owen wrote on May 30, 1677, that he just finished writing his work on the doctrine of justification being by faith. He talks about how the Anointed One took our sins upon Himself so that He might be our sacrifice. Owen is quick to point out that we should not understand this as the Anointed One becoming a sinner like us. How can a sinner save a sinner? Owen believes we should interpret this as the Anointed One willing taking responsibility for paying the debt owed to God for your sins. So, the Anointed One did two things by taking such responsibility. First, He met the ransom price the Law required, so the Law’s demands were met. Not for just one time, but paid in full for all time. Secondly, He was able then to reconcile us with God. No, we were no longer His enemies, but His friends. But when God declared us a righteous in His sight, He wasn’t looking at us; it is by His righteousness through the Anointed One that we are saved and sanctified as holy to the Lord.

The Apostle Peter also saw it this way when he quoted from the Torah that we are to be holy because He is holy.[9] This provides that blessed assurance we need to comfort us on our difficult Christian journey. It is derived from the fact that a convicted sinner became a convinced sinner who then was transformed into a converted sinner. Jesus said we would find peace and rest for our souls.[10] It was all possible because as Paul says here in verses thirteen and fourteen, God’s Son redeemed us from the curse of the Law by being a curse for us. Our joy also comes from the fact that we are heirs to God’s promises to Abraham’s and joint-heirs with the Anointed One and His eternal riches. Remember, all those sins and the penalty of death belonged to us. We were helpless to pay our debt to God. Then Jesus came, not only did He pay our debt, but the debt of every sinner on earth. With that responsibility in His possession, He was then ordered to pay the debt which He did on the cross of Calvary. Peter was there when it happened and this is why he said Jesus carried our sins in His own body when He died on a cross.[11] Now we can stand right before God because of Jesus.[12]

Jonathan Edwards sees in verses thirteen and fourteen an important factor for all Christians to be aware of. He starts by saying that each person of the Trinity is exceedingly glorified in this work of redemption. That’s why this work is distinguished from all the other works of the triune God. The attributes of our triune God are glorious in other works, the three persons of the Trinity are distinctly glorified in no other work as in redemption. In this work, each distinct person of the triune God performs their distinct part and office assigned to them. Each one shows their particular and distinct concern as part of it, in harmony with their distinct personal characteristics, inter-Trinity relationships, and ministries. The redeemed express an equal concern with and dependence upon each Person of the triune Godhead in this redemption and we owe equal honor and praise to each of them.

The Father appoints and provides the Redeemer, and accepts the price of redemption. The Son is the Redeemer and the One who pays the price. He redeems us by offering up Himself in our place. The Holy Spirit immediately communicates to us that we were purchased. So, the sum of what the Anointed One purchased for us is holiness and joy. But the Holy Spirit is the essential principle in holiness and joy. The Holy Spirit is the sum of all that the Anointed One purchased for humanity. That’s why Paul says that the Anointed One bought us with His blood and made us free from the Law. In that way, the Law could not punish us. the Anointed One did this by carrying the load and by being punished instead of us. And because of the price the Anointed One Jesus paid, the good things that came to Abraham might come to the people who are not Jews. And by putting our trust in the Anointed One, we receive the Holy Spirit He promised as our divine Comforter, Counselor, and Companion.

[1] Deuteronomy21:22-23

[2] Colossians 3:11

[3] John 8:29

[4] Isaiah 53:5

[5] 1 Corinthians 1:18

[6] 1 Peter 1:12

[7] John Calvin: Biblical Cabinet, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 71-72

[8] William Burkitt: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 316

[9] 1 Peter 1:16; See Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7

[10] Matthew 11:28-30

[11] 1 Peter 2:24

[12] John Owen: The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, Vol. 1, p. 72

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXVII)

Kenneth Wuest shares with us the three Greek words translated by the words “bought” or “redeemed.” These three tell the story of redemption. The first is agorazo, which means to buy in the slave market.[1] We all were born in slavery to sin. Our ransom price was paid by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. Peter says that we were not redeemed with mere silver and gold coins used to buy a slave out of slavery, but with precious blood, highly honored, as of a lamb without spot or blemish.[2] Thus, believers become willing bondslaves of the Lord Jesus by “right of purchase.” The word doulos (bondslave), translated “servants,” refers to one born in slavery but was purchased to become a slave.[3]

The second word is the one Paul uses in the verse we are studying, exagorazo (to buy a slave out of the market-place.) The bondslave of the Lord Jesus is bought not only to be His bondslave but is bought out of the slave market, never to be put up for sale in any slave market again. The bondslave of the Lord Jesus belongs to Him for time and for eternity. It is only through foolishness like the Galatians that a person would go back into slavery by adopting the Law instead of the LORD as their master. And since you cannot serve two masters, you must choose. Some make their choice and then stick with it, while others make that same choice on a daily basis.

The third word is lutroo. The noun has the same root and means “ransom money” used to liberate a slave.[4] The verb means “to set free by the payment of a ransom.” The bondslave of the Lord Jesus is set free from the former slave master of sin, to realize in the bondslave’s life that for which God created him or her, to glorify Him and to enjoy His fellowship forever.[5] There is no fellowship in sin, just misery. Satan tries to fool us by saying it won’t hurt, just try a little of it. But just like narcotics, once tasted, it gets a hold on the person who tries it. On the other hand, as King David said, “Taste and see that the LORD is good,”[6] to which we can add Paul’s recommendation that we not become drunk on the world’s wine, but be filled with the Spirit,[7] Be addicted to the Spirit of God rather than to the spirits of this world and sin.

Ronald Y. K. Fung says that the foolish conduct of the Galatians was the more culpable in that Jesus the Anointed One was publicly proclaimed before their very eyes as crucified. The word rendered “openly displayed” (prographō) refers not to some document or letter previously written by Paul,[8] nor to a depiction of the suffering and dying Jesus, but to the public and official character of the apostolic kerygma (proclamation) which was displayed like a metaphorical billboard for all to see, “Jesus the Anointed One … crucified.[9] The perfect participle estaurōmenos (“crucified”) in this phrase does not merely fasten attention upon the death of the Anointed One as the culmination and, therefore, summary of his life as that of “one who took the form of a servant,” nor does it characterize Jesus as one hanging on the cross and to be considered as such even now; rather it describes Him in His character as the crucified (and risen) One. The phrase “Jesus the Anointed One crucified” concisely summarizes the decisive event in salvation history and, as such, the fundamental content of the Pauline kerygma. If only the Galatians had fixed their eyes on that billboard, it would have enabled them to escape the fascination of the false teachers; for that one phrase, had it been truly understood, would have removed the ground from the Judaizers’ argument.[10]

J. L. Nye (c. 1851-1899), collector of anecdotes to be used in sermons tells of a young man living in Pennsylvania whose father was a well-to-do businessman, who gave in to the temptation of buying expensive goods and forging his father’s name on the bill. Once it was discovered, the boy ran away from home. He was able to live off of the money he got from pawning his goods but eventually became penniless. The boy remembered a minister who was a friend to his father. So, after living a life of sin he showed up at the minister’s house. He was full of remorse but also is the last stage of cancer.

The minister knew there were three things needed for the boy and his father to be reconciled. First, the boy must be repentant and ask forgiveness. Second, the law must be satisfied by paying back all the money he embezzled. And third, the father must be willing to forgive him and receive him back into the family. The father confirmed that the first part was taken care of because he paid all the bills. The second point was also met in that the boy was deeply repentant. But the third point was not provided. As the boy neared death, the minister sent a telegram to the father saying, “Your son is dying; for God’s sake read Luke 15 and come before it is too late.” The reply from the father was: “When he is dead, send his body here at my expense.” That was all – the father was unwilling to forgive.

How different is the case with our Heavenly Father, says Nye. He also has provided for the satisfaction of the broken law by His Son’s death on the cross. He is longing to receive us. Did He not say, “Those that comes to Me, I will never turn away?”[11] He invited us – will we come? If we fail to come, did He also not say, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me?[12] He has provided all that is required; we need only to accept His gift, leave ourselves in His hands, and be prepared to meet our God with joy.[13]

American Baptist minister, missionary, and writer Stanley L. Derickson (b. 1940) points to what Paul says here in verse thirteen as sufficient evidence that we are not freed from the curse of the Law based on our good works or self-effort in changing our character. We are freed by the Anointed One’s work on the cross to live our lives as saints and not sinners.[14] That’s why anyone’s efforts to be holy on their own end up with large holes in their claims of holiness.

My oldest brother, when he was in his teens, cut himself on his arm. But when the wound began to heal, my brother kept removing the scab and the wound became reinfected. My father tried to explain to him that he needed to let the wound heal and the scab would fall off all by itself. However, my brother could not resist and continued to pick at the scab and the infection set in again, only this time worse than before. My father used the method of punishment common back in those days by taking off his belt and applying it to my bother’s bottom.

But sorry, my brother wanted to help the wound to heal so he would unconsciously pick at the scab until it came off, only to have the wound get red with infection again. My father took my brother into the living room where he removed his belt again. My brother was sure this whipping would be more severe than the one before. But strangely, my Dad took off his shirt, handed my brother the belt, got down on his knees and told my brother that he would take the deserved beating for him. My Dad was sure my brother would take out his frustration to pay him back for previous lashings. Instead, my brother began to cry and sob. He asked my father for forgiveness; he just couldn’t bring himself to lay the whip on my father’s back. From that moment on, my brother never touched the scab again and the wound healed quickly.

So, it is with Jesus the Anointed One. We deserved the punishment He received for our constant disobedience by constantly picking at the wounds that sin opened in our hearts and minds. Jesus knew they would never heal on their own so He took the beating on our behalf. That’s why we are drawn to the cross out of love, not fear. We don’t resent that God gave such laws that made sin so attractive to our rebellious spirit. We now understand why it was necessary to show that the wounds of sin will constantly be infected unless they are cleansed by the healing blood of the Lamb. O what a wonderful Savior we have!

3:14 Therefore, God is able to bless the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham because of the work of Jesus the Anointed One, allowing us to come alive in the Spirit through faith.

If the Judaizers and their wayward Galatians followers entertained any idea that they should get some credit for their attempt at increasing the value of their salvation by adding their own efforts to the Anointed One’s faithfulness, they proved sorely and embarrassingly wrong. Paul was quick to tell them that God’s promise to Abraham was not limited to Israelis or Jews. His descendants were to be a light to the whole world, not just their race.[15] That’s why he told him to leave Chaldea and to the land that God would show him. Later on, God would speak to Abraham again and tell him good will come to all the nations of the earth through your children and their children’s children. Because you obeyed My voice.[16]

Why couldn’t the Jewish converts in Galatia see that they were part of that chosen group who would witness to the world? Isaiah posed questions about the big task God assigned to him. But the Lord spoke to Isaiah and told him that he was marked to be His servant before he was born. His aim was to bring the children of Israel back to their senses and recognize who their God really was. Not only that, But God shared with Isaiah that there was a group among the Israelites whom He protected because they would be His witnesses to the whole world. So, God’s word to Isaiah was, “I will also make You a light to the Gentiles so that people over all the earth can be saved from the punishment of their sins.”[17]

But God’s plans didn’t require Isaiah to do this all by himself, God kept a select few for this very purpose. He cheers Isaiah up by telling him I will also make You a light to the nations so that men over all the earth can be saved from the punishment of their sins. How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who tells of peace and brings good news of happiness, who tells of saving power, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Not only that, but the Lord will show His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see that our God saves.[18]

[1] 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23

[2] 1 Peter 1:18; cf., 2 Peter 2:1

[3] See Romans 618

[4] See 1 Peter 1:18; Titus 2:14, cf. Luke 24:21

[5] Kenneth Wuest: Word Studies on Galatians, op. cit., loc., cit.

[6] Psalm 34:8

[7] Ephesians 5:18

[8] Cf. the use of the word in Romans 15:4; Ephesians 3:3; Jude 4

[9] So rendered in the Revised Standard Version (RSV); the New American Standard Bible (NASB); and the New International Version (NIV)

[10] Ronald Y. K. Fung: On Galatians, op. cit., pp. 129-129

[11] John 6:37

[12] Revelation 3:20

[13] J. L. Nye: Anecdotes, op. cit., p 114

[14] Stanley L. Derickson: Notes on Theology, Redemption, New Testament Terms, 1962, p. 913

[15] Genesis 12:2-3

[16] Ibid. 22:18

[17] Isaiah 49:6

[18] Ibid. 52:7-8, 10

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