CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XXIII)

It is clear from Scripture that once a person accepts salvation by grace through the Anointed One, they are responsible to seek and live by God’s will and purpose for their lives. But Paul suspected there were those who would take the freedom they gained through grace too far one way or the other way. Since no one could have accomplished what the Anointed One did; and no one can add any value to it; they also cannot diminish what Jesus did at Calvary. Some, therefore, argued that once you are freed from sin through grace then you are eternally secure in your salvation. So, they reasoned, you may limp or crawl or stumble into heaven, but you have a guarantee you will still get in. That doctrine is still alive today.

On the other hand, there were those that bound one’s salvation to their faithful adherence to strict religious practices and conformity. As such, you are eternally insecure until you actually arrive in heaven and only then you can relax. This doctrine suggests that someone who accepted salvation, but then through a violation of man’s holiness decrees are declared a sinner, they must be saved all over again. That means, if their violation of church rules is considered the same as original sin for which Jesus died, this would require that the Anointed One go back to the cross and die once more. In either case, it’s man’s vain attempt to add to or subtract from the work of the Anointed One on the cross. It suggests that God’s plan of salvation is lacking in some way or incomplete without man’s amendments. This concept is still in some churches today. No wonder Paul was all upset at this attempt to modify the Gospel of the Anointed One.

However, even the great Reformer Martin Luther, who credits Paul’s letter to the Galatians for leading him to the light on salvation by grace and not by works, felt an affinity with Paul over this dispute with the teachers who followed him to the churches in Galatia. Luther explains that this passage produces further evidence that the false apostles defamed Paul as an imperfect apostle and a weak and erroneous preacher. They condemn Paul, so Paul condemns them. Such warfare of condemnation is always going on in the church. The Vatican and the fanatics hate us, says Luther, the condemn our doctrine and want to kill us. We in turn hate and condemn their cursed doctrine.

Luther goes on. In the meanwhile the people are uncertain whom to follow and which way to turn, for it is not given to everybody to judge these matters. But the truth will win out. So much is certain, we persecute no one, neither does our doctrine trouble people. On the contrary, we have the testimony of many good individuals who thank God on their knees for the consolation that our doctrine has brought them. Like Paul, we are not to blame that the churches have trouble.1 Luther was no doubt convinced that he was being fair, but on many occasions he blamed the Anabaptists and other Reformers for causing his listeners to began questioning him on certain points.

John Calvin is convinced that the problem with the Judaizers is not so much that they brought another gospel, but that they were speaking contemptuously of the Gospel that Paul delivered to the Galatians. Paul was more interested in knowing on what grounds do they attacked the doctrine which he preached. In Paul’s mind, it was to confuse and disorient the Galatians, so that in their confusion these false teachers could sow the seeds of religious legalism in their minds. So they did not bring another gospel, they only brought trouble and deception. And by doing this, Calvin charges them with the additional crime of doing an injury to the Anointed One, by endeavoring to subvert His Gospel. Subversion is an enormous crime. It is worse than corruption. And Paul has every reason to charge them with this crime. When someone or something else is given the credit for justification, a trap is set for people’s consciences. The Savior no longer occupies His rightful place in their hearts and minds, and the message of salvation by grace is utterly ruined.2

Matthew Poole (1624-1679) believes that this verse should read that these Judaizers were trying “to pervert the Gospel of the Anointed One.” He explains, there was no other doctrine or teachings to replace the Torah and the Gospel of the Anointed One. It was all a matter of their wanting to offer a new interpretation to give them more peace about their salvation but were causing more doubt and confusion instead. Where are the instructions that Paul gave Timothy?3 They were attempting to replace the truth with personal opinion. What was most disrespectful was that they were doing in Jesus’ Name. They were trying to add the good works of the Law to what the Anointed One already fulfilled on the cross. It made no sense to require additional obedience to the Law since the Anointed One and the Anointed One alone was the One they put their faith in for a right standing before God and their salvation.4

A Roman Catholic commentator George Leo Haydock (1774-1849) offers us insight into how what Paul is saying here was accepted during his era of the 1800’s. He shares what he thought Paul meant by another gospel. It may not have been entirely “another” gospel just because they pretended to be Christians and teach the faith their way. Yet, in some measure it was another gospel because such teachers made changes that resulted in a lot of errors, particularly that all converted Gentiles were to observe the Jewish law. In this sense, they are said to be corrupting, or destroying the Gospel of the Anointed One. That’s why the Apostle hesitates in pronouncing and repeating a curse upon all that preach something else, that is, as a religious practice, not agreeing with what he taught about Grace.

Haydock then goes on to offer his own reflection on something that Chrysostom said about the seventh verse. Where are they, he asks, who condemn us (Roman Catholics) for the differences we have with heretics [Protestants]? The same ones who pretend there is no essential differences between us and them, except that they are excluded from the communion of the Catholic Church, out of which there is no salvation, unless perhaps through ignorance. (This shows the closed-mindedness that existed between Roman Catholics and Protestants for centuries).

Haydock continues by pointing to something the Apostle Paul says, that they destroyed the Gospel who made any such innovations: that is, by introducing again as necessary some of the Jewish ceremonies, even at a time when the Christians, who were Jews at one time, might lawfully use them, and even they who were once heathens. Paul says, this is to change and destroy the Gospel, repeating anathema against them.5 Let them hear, and take notice of this, who pretend that the unity of the one Catholic faith is sufficiently maintained by all Christian societies, that agreeing, as they say, in fundamentals, their faith is a saving faith: that the council of Trent, without reason, pronounced such anathemas against them: that all Catholics are uncharitable for denying them to be in the way to salvation, when they make Scripture alone, as interpreted by their private judgment, the only rule of their faith. They may as well accuse not only Chrysostom but also St. Paul, of uncharitableness.6

In the case of Chrysostom, Haydock may have read some of the sermons this great early church preacher offered in his day against believers in the church joining in with the Jews to celebrate their holidays. In one homily, Chrysostom notes now that the Jewish festivals are close by and at the door, if he should fail to cure those who are sick with the Judaizing disease, he was afraid that, because of their ill-suited association and deep ignorance, some Christians may join the Jews in their transgressions. Once they have done so, he feared that his sermons on these transgressions would be in vain. For if they hear no word from him today, they will then join the Jews in their feasts; once they have committed this sin it will be useless for him to apply any remedy.7

Many scholars believe that Chrysostom was referring to the same condition that faced Paul in Galatia. That members of the church were joining the Jews because they thought it would enhance their salvation. On the other hand, Haydock may have encountered a similar problem with Catholics insisting that Protestants adopt Catholic rites and rituals in order to make their salvation more secure. In either case, this has been going on for centuries between various denominations. But the main point here is that under no circumstances must the truth of the Gospel be compromised.

George Whitefield Clark (1831-1910) points to the Greek verb tarassō which the KJV translates as “trouble.” As used here in the Final Covenant it has but one meaning, and that is to “agitate.” But there are different ways a person can be agitated. One is to cause inward commotion so as to “take away one’s calmness of mind.” Another is to “make restless,” another to “stir up,” another means “striking fear or dread in one’s mind,” another is to “cause anxiety or distress,” and yet another, “to perplex the mind so as to cause doubt.” It is obvious that these are tied together in a sequence. That means, no matter which one is the root cause of one’s trouble, the others will automatically follow suit. Thayer in his Greek Lexicon says that as used here in verse seven, it all begins by causing someone to become anxious, distressed, perplexed by suggesting doubts about what they believe.8

So it appears that Paul clearly understood that the Judaizers did not come to Galatia from Jerusalem to call Paul a liar, or to denounce the Gospel he preached as a fake hearsay. No, their first attempt was to cause the Galatians to doubt what Paul said as being the only way to God and salvation. That there were other ways besides free grace. If they worked a little harder and did all that the Law said they should do it would enhance their standing with God and make their salvation more certain. It doesn’t take a psychologist to see why this would cause them to become fearful, anxious, restless, distressed and perplexed. With Paul no longer around, they turned to the Judaizers for help. Now Paul was writing them to assure them that the Gospel he preached was received from God. So by rejecting the Gospel he brought them from God, they were rejecting God Himself.9

1 Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 18

2 John Calvin: Bible Cabinet, On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp.10-11

3 2 Timothy 2:12

4 Matthew Poole: Commentary on the Holy Bible (Annotations), 1659-1667, Still Waters Revival Books, 2015, p. 641

5 Anathema is a Greek noun that indicates being cursed by ecclesiastical authority accompanied by excommunication. As Paul used it here in Galatians 1:8, it meant to be placed beyond redemption or reconciliation.

6 George Leo Haydock: Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859, loc. cit.

8 George Whitefield Clark: On Galatians, op. cit., loc., cit., pp. 57-58

9 Cf. Verse twenty

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XXII)

One Jewish writer hears Paul saying this to the Galatians: Because there is only one Good News, and no other way exists of being guiltless, righteous, and holy before God, other than the one we told you about, that of faith in Jesus the Anointed One alone, I must tell you that you are being led astray by those who pervert the truth concerning the Anointed One, those who try to adulterate the Good News of free forgiveness by faith alone with the teaching that we must earn our righteousness. Those who say that while dependence on Jesus the Anointed One and His sacrifice is important, we must also conscientiously keep some of the requirements of God’s Law in order to have a perfect standing with Him.1 I’m sure Paul would say “Amen!” that’s exactly what I’m trying to convey.

One Messianic Gentile writer feels that these troublemakers and distorters that are commonly referred to as “Judaizers,” should rather be called “influencers.” He accepts that the influencers were most likely believers in Yeshua of Nazareth. Their only error at this point is that as teachers within the Galatian Christian communities they were attempting to influence the non-Jewish believers to undergo circumcision as part of their conversion. As such, Paul does not like their influence, and has some harsh words for them. Lancaster gives his view of how these influencers were perceived. As he sees it, when you are a leader and a teacher – a spiritual leader and a Bible teacher – there is nothing more devastating than the presence of “influencers” in your flock. Influencers always have a contrary agenda. They are always dissatisfied with the leadership; they always have a critical spirit; they are always trying to be leaders without leading, by spreading discontent and planting seeds of dissension.2 As such, Lancaster agrees that the distorting of the Gospel is hazardous to the soul, and even though they were fellow Christians, Paul wished them nothing but bad luck.

One Jewish commentator asked whether Paul was a disciplinarian with an uncontrollable temper, or is he filled with venom against anyone whose opinion differs from his own? The answer depends on whether one believes there is such a thing as a true Gospel, God’s genuine Good News, summed up in verses 1 and 3b–5, answering the deepest questions of human existence. If in fact Yeshua called Paul by His grace to proclaim God’s Good News, then this is the true Good News that saves. Any other “gospel” is not good news at all but misleading bad news, capable of drawing people off into perdition who began on the road to salvation. So Paul has every right to come down hard on these Galatians for being so foolish.3

Jewish writer Avi ben Mordechai Paul expressing his surprise that the Galatians so quickly started combining Jewish religious customs with their religious faith in Jesus the Anointed One. Mordechai asks: “What did the Anointed One teach that the Galatians community so quickly forgot?” He points to what Yeshua said to His followers: “I’m telling you, as long as heaven and earth last, not one dot over an ‘i’ or an accent mark over an ‘à’ will be erased out of the Law of Moses until it has all been completely fulfilled. Anyone who breaks even the least important law in the Torah and teaches people not to do what it says, will be called the least in the holy nation of heaven. He who obeys and teaches others to obey what the Law of Moses says, will be called great in the holy nation of heaven.4

The reason for this strong reminder by Yeshua was no doubt due to the fact that even the Jews long ago ceased using the Torah as their basis for deciding what was right or wrong in God’s eyes, and instituted the Mishnah commentary and Talmud interpretation based on various Rabbi’s perceptions of what the Torah said. So the Written Torah – the true Word of God, was exchanged for rabbinic oral laws (the word of men). So for Paul, the same happened in Galatia. They perverted the Gospel of the Anointed One. Mordechai explains that any teaching that leads people away from the Written Torah requires that they submit to the man-made laws of the Mishnah and Talmud and is turning people’s attention away from the Word that Yahweh approved of to teachings and customs that rabbis approved of5.6 If Paul were to enter any church today and listen to the sermon, I wonder if he would be as equally shocked and outraged at how far from the True Gospel churches have strayed.

Commentator Vincent Cheung makes the point that Paul mentions the reason for his letter right away. At this point we are not provided with details about the problem, but the Galatians know what Paul is writing about. He begins by referring to the issue in general terms, describing the problem and noting its consequences. Some people are trying to pervert the gospel, and convince the Galatians to affirm another gospel. We will be able to infer from the rest of the letter the nature of the doctrinal perversion and this “other gospel” – what Paul says in this passage belongs to that context, but there are some points here that demand application everywhere.7

For Cheung, it all boils down to a simple test: when the true Gospel of the Anointed One is preached it will lead to conviction and conversion as well as sparking a greater love for God, His Word, His Son, His Holy Spirit, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. The one thing that seems to attract so many Christians to these dubious prophets of today is the fact that no leap of faith is required to accept their doctrine. Their words appeal more to human reasoning than spiritual insight. But these questionable teachings also tend to enforce doing things to impress God with one’s own spiritual strength, rather than exposing one’s weaknesses so the believer can depend more on God’s strength. These populist theories are fads for awhile, but they soon fade into history because they lack the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s truth to keep them going.

1:7b Someone is trying to make fools out of you with this nonsense. They have gotten the Gospel of Jesus the Anointed One all mixed up.

Paul must have felt the same sense of frustration over the sudden turn by the Galatians to entertain these Judaizers8 as the Lord felt when He told Jeremiah, “How long will there be lies in the hearts of those who speak false words in My name, who speak the lies of their own heart?9 It could also be that some of Paul’s consternation with these Judaizers came from his recollection of what he ran into in Paphos in Cyprus when he confronted Elymas and called him a false preacher and trouble-maker.10 And what about those Paul heard about in Macedonia who were only in it for the money?11

Because of what he learned in dealing with impostors, Paul wrote to young Timothy and warned him to be on the lookout for those who claimed they received a special revelations from the Lord to back up what they taught.12 And Paul’s warning is also relevant for us today. So we must ask ourselves, has the time come when people will not listen to the truth? Rather, they look for teachers who tell them only what they want to hear. They won’t listen to witnesses in the Scriptures. Instead, they will listen to stories made up by self-proclaimed prophets.13

The Apostle Peter must have run into similar individuals. He told his readers to remember that God’s Word was inspired by the Holy Spirit, not by man’s imagination. Furthermore, they will not tell the people where they got their revelation or inspiration anymore than a magician will tell the audience how they work their magic. Unfortunately, many will be misled and run after them as though they are true emissaries of God.14 But the Apostles Paul and Peter were not the only ones. The Apostle John gave a warning to believers in his day that applies to us today.15 However, God did not leave us without discernment, John also told his readers to test the spirits to see if they are from God. And one way to test those spirits is to see if they can pass the test of being in harmony with God’s Word.16

It is interesting that in Jewish writings, a fool is compared to a deaf man and a child. Fools, like a deaf man, cannot hear and, therefore, obtain no knowledge; fools, like a minor, are incapable of understanding anything above the simplest of matters.17 Sounds like Paul agrees with the Rabbis in that the Galatians were treated like responsible adults when he taught them, but now act children who didn’t hear or understand a thing he said. Bruno the Carthusian explains it this way: These Judaizers are stirring up trouble. It resembles stirred muddied waters in which nothing can be clearly discerned. It is in this sense that Paul’s opponents have confused the understanding of the Galatians since they are now unable to distinguish good from evil.”18

Ambrosiaster does not hold back on his support of Paul’s outrage. Nobody should be surprised that the Apostle, who was known for taming wild behavior, should be so worked up about this, but it was for the sake of the Galatians’ salvation that he was so angry with the enemies of Christian discipline. He believes the intensity of his anger showed that he considered it a serious mistake to turn back to the Law as a duty after having received the Gospel in faith. Paul asserted that the Gospel which he preached to them was so firm and true that even if some of Apostles were to change their minds and begin preaching something different, they should not be listened to, even if their reputation as Apostles reached the ends of the earth.19

What rattled Paul so badly, besides being dumped for leaders of less stature and even less credibility, was their attempt to mix Law with Grace. This made their Gospel man-centered rather than the Anointed One-centered. Forcing believers to religiously observe ceremonial rituals in order to reach spiritual perfection was an attempt to add value to the work of the Anointed One on the cross. Either He paid the full price, or He didn’t. What these false teachers preached is often referred to as “legalistic gospel.” This teaches that although they were saved by grace, they could only remain saved through their own efforts. But it is useless to consider such nonsense. No one can live a perfect life on earth, only Jesus the Anointed One was capable of that.

1 Aiyer, Ramsey: The Contextual Bible Galatians (Kindle Locations 111-116)

2 D. Thomas Lancaster: On Galatians, op. cit., p.23

3 Stern, David H.: Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., loc. cit

4 Matthew 5:18-19

5 See Mark 7:1-8

6 Avi ben Mordechai: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 6

7 Cheung, Vincent: Commentary On Galatians, loc. cit.

8 Acts of the Apostles 15:1, 24

9 Jeremiah 23;26

10 Acts of the Apostles, 13:6-10

11 2 Corinthians 2:17

12 1 Timothy 4:1-2; See 2 Timothy 2:18

13 2 Timothy 4:3-4; See Titus 1:10,11

14 2 Peter 1:20-21 – 2:1-3

15 1 John 2:18-21, 26

16 Ibid. 4:1-6; 2 John 1:7-8

17 Babylonian Talmud, Seder Mo’ed, Masekhet Hagigah, folio 2a

18 Bruno the Carthusian, The Letter to the Galatians, loc. cit.

19 Ambrosiaster, op. cit.

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XXI)

In another place, Professor Stevens notes that Paul couldn’t understand why the Galatians were having trouble with him and his message. Didn’t they realize that his mission and theology came as a package, they cannot be separated.1 It all begins with Yeshua of Nazareth being the Anointed One, the Anointed One sent from God, and the Anointed One then sent him to the Gentiles to share the Anointed One’s message. It was not something Paul dreamed up. It was all about how every sinner can stand justified as right before God in Faith by Grace, not by any good works of their own. Today, we might say it would be like trying to separate the film from the camera and hope to take pictures. They go together, you can’t use one without the other. So by rejecting Paul and the Gospel – the man from his mission, they were actually rejecting God who planned this ministry for him and the Anointed One who called and commissioned him. No doubt, Paul was thinking that if they just understood this they would stop turning away from Jesus and turning back to Jesus in repentance.2

Earnest DeWitt Burton (1856-1925), Biblical scholar and president of the University of Chicago points out that the Greek verb metatithēmi is in the present tense, thereby indicating that the Galatians turning away from Paul’s Gospel was not over, it was only in progress. This would certainly prove that Paul didn’t think it was too late and hoped that his letter would stop them from turning and make them think it over and turn back around. However, the mind of Paul wavers somewhat between hope and fear, as he writes this letter, concerning to the final outcome3.4

Arno Gaebelein (1861-1945), also focuses on Paul’s claim that these Judaizers were perverting the Gospel by teaching that the finished work of the Anointed One was not sufficient for salvation, but that a person must add their good works by keeping of the law and becoming circumcised. It was a God-dishonoring denial of the completeness and perfection of the work of the Anointed One in His life on earth and in His death on the cross. Not only was it a perversion of the Gospel, but more than that it was the setting aside of that Gospel altogether. Unfortunately, says Gaebelein, it was almost a universal thing in Christendom in his time. People were hearing a lot about “salvation by character,” but not “salvation by Christ,” which is Satan’s invention.

Ritualism, which makes church ordinances the necessary means of salvation, is another perversion of the Gospel of Grace. The phrase one hears so much, “God has done His part and we must do our part,” is another phase of a perverted gospel. A human is a lost sinner, helpless and hopeless in themselves. They can do nothing for they are without strength.5 The doing is all on God’s side; all the sinner can do is to accept what the grace of God in Jesus the Anointed One offers to them. “For by His loving-favor you have been saved from the punishment of sin through faith. It is not by anything you have done. It is a gift of God. It is not given to you because you worked for it. If you could work for it, you would be proud.67

Cyril Emmet (1875-1923), adds another aspect as to why Paul thought the forsaking of the Gospel that he brought to the Galatians came so suddenly. In addition to the fact that it may have been soon after his last visit there or so quickly upon the arrival of the Judaizers who misled them, that Emmet adds their hastiness may have surprised Paul because it was done without any serious consideration of the consequences.8 And even more frustrating for the Apostle, they did not turn to a “different” Gospel message the way it may be preached by Peter, James, or John, but “another” gospel that seemed to cancel out the Gospel that Paul delivered to them. Paul’s Gospel was one based upon God’s Love, this other gospel was based upon God’s Law. The one based on Love set them free, the one based on Law would only put them back in bondage again. How could they have done that so quickly without thinking?9 Didn’t they realize that complete Love replaced the Law which was incomplete; a person’s works were replaced by the work of the Anointed one?

Arthur Pink (1886-1952) makes a clear and important point when he notes the central issue raised in the letter to the Galatians is not “what is the basic conduct for the believer’s life,” but “what is the basis for conduct in the believer’s life.” The proof needed to make this assertion is found here in what Paul says in verse seven that there is not another kind of gospel, even though some who would like to lead them to God by a different but wrong way. They’re trying to do this by substituting or subtracting from the Good News about the Anointed One. Furthermore, Paul was not hesitant in pointing out that it was the Judaizing troublemakers who were the ones corrupting the Gospel of Jesus the Anointed One. They wanted to take the believer’s faith in their salvation from believing in the Anointed One as their Savior to believing in the Law as their Savior.10

Lutheran theologian Otto Paul Kretzmann (1901-1975) makes note that in many prior commentaries dating back to the early church scholars, the unstableness or undependability of the Gauls (from France) and Celtics (from mainland Europe) who migrated to this part of the world was often the cause for their irrational actions. This then made them easy targets for the Judaizers. For Kretzmann, the result of this deception was twofold: First, they were disturbing and troubling the minds and consciences of the Galatians, causing them to become doubtful as to the doctrine which they were taught by Paul. Secondly, they were incidentally doing their best to distort and pervert the real Gospel of the Anointed One, the glorious message of salvation through His name. If they succeeded in their design, it would mean the end of pure evangelical preaching in the affected congregations. Kretzmann also notes, that this verse must be kept in mind at all times against the perverters of the message of sin and grace, no matter what disguise may be use. This is what the Reformers exposed in their day in order to reject the claims of the Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages.11

Jewish writer W. A. Liebenberg looked at the Greek verb thaumazō translated as “marvel” (KJV) in verse six from a Hebrew perspective, and he parses it out to literally mean, “left speechless.”12 In other words, when Paul first got the message of the Galatians falling prey to the Judaizers’ corrupt message, Paul was absolutely stunned for a moment or two. Of course, as soon as he could recover he wrote this blistering opening as part of a letter he sent after hearing the grieving news. It would be one thing if these Judaizers came wearing a badge identifying them as such, but they came disguised as a delegation from the Church in Jerusalem. Perhaps that’s why the Galatians didn’t listen very carefully and were so willing to comply with their message because they thought it was already approved. If this fooled people back in Paul’s day, who says it won’t fool people today?13

Torah Teacher Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy puts a different twist on the commonly held belief in what Paul meant by “another” gospel being taught by the Judaizers. Ben-Lyman makes note that pertinent to the study of Galatians is the historical fact that 1st century Judaizers were not teaching salvation by following Torah (as the emerging Church might assume). The “other gospel” that gave Paul such consternation was the prevailing Rabbinic view that only Isra’el alone shared a place in the world-to-come, that is, only Jews were granted covenant membership through Abraham. Taking this view meant that the Gentiles must first convert to Judaism before being considered full-fledged members of God’s kingdom. Looking at it this way, the Torah was not the means of salvation; “works of the Torah” (defined elsewhere in this commentary) were the prerequisite to “salvation.” In this view, the Torah was used to help maintain membership granted to native born Jews and proselytes alike. Rabbi ben-Lyman personally disagrees with this central tenets of this Rabbinic view.14

Philip Ryken has an enlightening and sobering assessment of the “other” gospel factor in today’s church. He wants to know if we can distinguish between the “true” gospel and the “other” gospels in today’s contemporary churches? In some churches, you may hear the gospel of material prosperity, which teaches that Jesus is the way to financial gain. In other churches you might hear the gospel of family values, which teaches that Jesus is the way to a happy home. Then there is the gospel of self value, which teaches that Jesus is the way to personal fulfillment. There is also the gospel of religious tradition, which teaches that Jesus is the way to respectability. There is the gospel of morality, which teaches that Jesus is the way to be a good person. What makes these other gospels so dangerous is that the things they offer are all benefits. It is good to be prosperous, to have a happy home, and to be well behaved. Yet as good as all these things are, they are not the Good News. When they become for us a sort of gospel, then we are in danger of turning away from the only Gospel there is.15

Grant Osborne reminds us of just who the Judaizers were in those days. The descriptive term “Judaizers” was used for a group of Jewish Christians who wanted to make all Christians practitioners of Judaism. Rejecting the conclusion of the Jerusalem Council in Acts fifteen, they continued to believe that Gentile converts to Christianity must become Jews before they can become Christians. Today we would call them “hardliners.” For them, becoming circumcised and following all Torah (the Mosaic law) regulations was necessary for Christians to attain salvation. In effect, they were replacing the cross with ceremony; Jesus with Moses. This group sent missionaries to the Christians in Asia Minor whom Paul evangelized on his first missionary journey,16 trying to convince them that Paul was wrong and to get them to join the Judaizing movement in the church. They were all about going back to the basics of the Jewish religion.17

1 See Romans 2:16

2 George B. Stevens: The Pauline Theology, A Study of the Origin and Correlation of the Doctrinal Teachings of the Apostle Paul, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1892, pp. 25-26

3 See Galatians 4:20, 5:10

4 Ernest DeWitt Burton: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1920, pp. 18-19

5 Ibid. 5:6

6 Ephesians 2:8-9

7 Arno Gaebelein: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

8 Cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Timothy 5:22

9 Cyril Emmet: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 3-4

10 A. W. Pink: The Law and the Saint, The Negative Side, p. 20

11 Paul Kretzmann: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

12 In Andrew G. Roth’s Aramaic Galatians his literal translation of verse 6 reads: “In surprise (dead of speaking) I (am).” And in his paraphrase he renders it, “I am stunned into silence.

13 W. A. Liebenberg: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 20-21

14 Rabbi Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy: Exegeting Galatians, A Messianic Jewish Commentary, e-book, p. 92

15 Ryken, Philip Graham: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., (Kindle Locations 401-408)

16 Acts of the Apostles, Chapters thirteen and fourteen

17 Osborne, G. R: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 26

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XX)

J. B. Lightfoot (1828-1889) agrees that during the time period Paul mentions here, many were left to deal with things that were not present when he was there, so the quickness with which they fell victim to the Judaizer’s deceit astounded him. But what happened to the Galatians is an even more disturbing matter. Some scholars see the trouble that the Judaizers were making as causing doubt in the Galatians’ minds. But Lightfoot believes it was more like rebel rousing. They were stirring up the believers against Paul for hiding certain truths that the Torah teaches. This then dissolved their allegiance to Paul as their spiritual father. So instead of continuing on the path that Paul outlined for them, the reversed course and went back in the direction they were going in, to begin with. For Lightfoot, this was the prominent thought in the Apostle Paul’s mind when he called this heresy a “turnabout,”1 or “turncoats” as we would say today of those who become traitors to their country.2

Anglican scholar Frederic W. Farrar (1831-1902), makes a good point when he says that it appears that Paul planted the seed of the Gospel in shallow and rocky soil. And Eugène Reuss believes that these Judaizers were part of the same contingent that antagonized Paul when he was in Jerusalem,3 something they no doubt would have disputed.4 They also fashioned themselves to be the true disciples of the Anointed One,5 and in His name imposed, as a condition of salvation, circumcision and all the rites of the Law.6 In Antioch, they fellowshipped with the Gentiles until Peter came, and thereafter they would have little to do with them.7 They loved to be called “brethren,” but they gave no reciprocal greeting to the Gentile believers.8 So we can see why Paul wanted nothing to do with them, let alone encourage the Galatians to fellowship with these troublemakers.

Edward Huxtable (1833-1893) points to the wording in verses six and seven where it read, “following a different gospel – not that there really is another gospel,”9 and seems to imply a change in the quality of the Gospel into a “strange new-fangled character.” The Greed adjective allos (“another” KJV) in verse seven sometimes does display this shade of meaning of something being contorted, distorted, twisted, etc. Huxtable likens it to what Paul said to the Corinthians about strange tongues and lips of strangers.10 Also, when Paul talks about a Jesus other than the real Jesus, and a different spirit than the Holy Spirit, and a different gospel from the gospel they received from him.11 He also wrote to Timothy about letting anyone with a false doctrine come in and teach something different than the doctrine that Timothy learned from Paul12.13 What Huxtable is driving at is that Paul suspected that this teaching of the Judaizers was no so blatantly different from his Gospel that the Galatians were able to dispute what they were saying. That’s what may have fooled them.

I remember my father, who was a preacher, telling about what was called the “Jesus Only” movement, starting in California around 1913, and then the “Latter Rain Movement,” that came sweeping through the country in 1947 right after the Second World War, and that it was the signal that the return of the Anointed One was close at hand. So there was no need for those seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit to tarry as the Apostles did in the Upper Room, but that the gift of tongues and gifts of the Spirit could be imparted from one believer to another simply by the “laying on of hands.” After I entered the ministry in 1964 I didn’t have to wait long before other doctrines began to swirl around such as the Prosperity Gospel, The “Rhema” movement, also known as the “Word of Faith” doctrine where if you speak it, it will happen, followed by the hierarchy of demons ruling over the earth and the casting out of demon obsessing and oppressing believers. This should also serve as a warning for every believer to test these spirits to see if they harmonize with the spirit of God’s Word and the witness of the Holy Spirit in unity among believers.14

Cyrus I. Schofield (1843-1921), American Theologian and minister and writer of the Annotated Bible, makes the point that God used the Apostle Paul to call the Galatians into the grace of the Anointed One here in verse six. This is important because grace means unmerited, uncompensated favor. It’s not something one is getting paid for. Scofield believes that it is essential to get this clear. No options or factors are to be added to grace. That’s why Paul rejected good works, circumcision, adherence to the Law such as obedience to commandments. But just like oil and water, grace and works do not mix.15 This is so true, that grace cannot even begin with us until the law has reduced us to speechless guilt.16 So long as there is the slightest question of utter guilt, utter helplessness, there is no place for grace. If a person feels that they are not good enough for heaven but too good for hell, they do not seek help in God’s grace but in the “Do-it-Yourself” manual for justification. Unfortunately, that is the beginning of a dead end road to nowhere.

Scofield then goes on to note that this misconception was brought on by false apostles bringing to them a gospel different than the one Paul gave them. It wasn’t so much “another gospel,” as it was an in direct opposition to the Gospel that Paul used, by adding anything that cannot be found in the Gospel so as to make it complete in their mind. But the deception came when they claimed it was part of a revelation that Paul failed to preach. The Gospel preached by Paul was known as the “glad tidings,” that brought forgiveness, joy, peace, and salvation. Nowhere is the Law referred to as “glad tidings” of “good news.17 As Scofield put it, “Surely that is no good news. The law, then, has but one language; it pronounces “all the world” — “good,” “bad,” and “goody-good” – “guilty!18

Bible scholar extraordinaire William Ramsey (1851-1939), expresses his thoughts on what Paul says here in verse six about the sudden switch by the Galatians from Paul’s Gospel to the Judaizer’s enlightened version. Some, says Ramsey, try to blame this movement from Grace to Law as part of the fickleness of the Galatians. That would certainly make any changes superficial. But no large group of people changes its moral, political, or religious position because they can’t make up their minds about what they already possessed. They only change because they believe a new and better form of belief and worship is clearer and truer and more advantageous than the old one. Such a sudden redirection does not come easy.19

Ramsey is prone to believe that Paul was on many long journeys since leaving Galatia and was not that reachable by Timothy or others with the latest news. It was only after he stopped for rest either in Ephesus or Corinth that the news was waiting for him when he arrived. So the sense of the sudden, unexplained movement by the Galatians away from Paul’s Gospel of Grace to the Judaizer’s Gospel of Law was not overnight. But it was done without any consultation or any attempt to reach him for counseling before they made their decision. That’s what really bothered Paul. That’s why he is trying now to give that counseling through this letter.

Presbyterian pastor, theologian, educator, and Yale Divinity School professor, George Barker Stevens (1854-1906), suggests that the one thing that left him speechless is “how quickly you have moved away from the One who redeemed you.” It almost seems as though Paul could hardly wait to finish his greeting and tell them what he really was feeling. When we try to envision such a scene, who would be surprised at what was happening, the Galatians or Jesus? We already know that Jesus dealt with the plague of unbelief.20 Stevens points out that Christian writers such as Chrysostom (349-407 AD) and German theologian Wilhelm Martin Leberecth de Wette (1780-1849) who believe that they seized hold of false doctrines that drew them away. But other scholars such as John Calvin (1509-1564), Johann Albrecht Bengel (1687-1752), and Karl Georg Wieseler (1906-1945), believe that their moving away was initiated by Paul’s departure, and yet others such as J. B. Lightfoot (1828-1889), Heinrich August Wilhelm Meter (1800-1873), and Hermann Olshausen (1796-1839) see it as something that happened not too soon after their conversion .

It is obvious that even the top theologians of centuries past were unable to agree upon one single reason why the Galatians moved away from the Anointed One. Perhaps there were some who fit into each of these categories. But in any case, the key factor is that it caused them to leave the side of Jesus to join the side of the Law. The sad thing is that God gave them a gracious invitation which they accepted but then exited unceremoniously. But there is no evidence that the Law issued them a more gracious invitation to embrace them. Didn’t they know they were freed from the prison of sin under the management of the Law by their Savior, Jesus the Anointed One, and turning around and willingly went back into bondage. Stevens marvels that the Gentile Galatians so quickly forgot that the Anointed One first went to the Jews, and when they rejected Him He turned to the Gentiles, now they were repeating the sin of the Jews and becoming just like them,21

1 See Galatians 3:3

2 J. B. Lightfoot: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p.219

3 2 Corinthians11:5; Galatians 2:6

4 Cf. 1 Corinthians 9:5

5 See 1 Corinthians 1:12; 10:7

6 Galatians 2:3; 3:3; 4:10,11; 5:2; Romans 14:1; Philippians 3:2; Colossians 2:21, etc.

7 Galatians 2:2

8 The Biblical Illustrator – Vol. 48 – Pastoral Commentary on Galatians (Kindle Location 1263-1272)

9 New English Translation

10 1 Corinthians 14:21

11 2 Corinthians 11:4

12 Edward Huxtable: Pulpit Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., p. 10

13 1 Timothy 1:3

14 1 John 4:1-6

15 See Roman 11:6

16 See Ibid. 3:19

17 See Romans 3:19

18 C. I. Scofield: The Fundamentals – A Testimony To The Truth, Vol. 3, Ch. 7, The Grace of God, pp. 85-86

19 Ramsay, Wm. M. Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. New York. Putnam’s. 1900, p. 225

20 See Mark 6:6

21 George Barker Stevens: A Short Exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians, The Student Publishing Company, Hartford, 1890, pp. 22-23

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CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XIX)

In William Burkitt’s (1650-1703) commentary we read that there are three things we can learn from what Paul’s says here. First, there is nothing new or unique for us to be told that needs to be added to the Gospel. Secondly, that adding anything to the Christian faith as being necessary to be believed and practiced in order to bring salvation, is perverting the Gospel of the Anointed One, and substituting another gospel. And thirdly, there is no authority in the Christian church, in all or any of its ministries with the power to impose upon Christians anything as a necessity for salvation which is not already included in the Gospel. The Apostles themselves were given no authority to add anything to the Gospel, much less any of those that came after them. Jesus the Anointed One commanded them to teach all nations, to observe all things whatsoever He commanded.1 If the Apostles themselves added any point of faith and practice to what the Anointed One gave and charged them to do, they would fall under the curse themselves that Paul denounces here as false teachers.2

Perhaps this is why Adam Clarke (1760-1851) gave his revivalist view of what Paul is saying here. For him, it was a matter of surprise and wonder that a people, so soundly converted to God, should have so soon a shipwreck of their faith. But when it comes to changeability, there is nothing more susceptible to modification than the human heart. We know that the interaction between different passions is continually either changing the character or giving it a different coloring. The Word of God is divine reasoning, not passion, nor the philosophy of mankind. It alone must be consulted concerning our salvation and everlasting life.3

Clarke goes on to give us some interesting insight into the lingering battle between what Jesus said in the true Gospel and what others were saying in their versions of the Gospel. Clarke notes that it is certain that in the very earliest ages of the Christian Church there were several spurious gospels in circulation, and it was the volume of these false or inaccurate renderings that motivated Luke to write his own. We have the names of more than seventy of these spurious narratives still on record, and in ancient writers, many fragments of them still remain. Many of these were collected and published by Fabricius,4 in his account of the apocryphal books of the Final Covenant. In some of these gospels, the necessity of circumcision, and subjection to the Mosaic law in unity with the Gospel were strongly combined. Even as early as Paul’s day he may have heard about some of these.5

James Haldane (1768-1742) points out that while the Gospel is the Good News of pardon, peace, and eternal life, without works, moral or ceremonial rites, but through faith in the Anointed One alone, Paul was surprised that the Galatians so quickly abandoned this Rock of Salvation for the slippery slope of adding the ceremonial laws of the Jewish faith to the Gospel. In other words, these Judaizers convinced the Galatians that while their trust in the Anointed One gave them certain assurances of salvation, it was not complete. They need to add the Law, rites, rituals, regulations, and ceremonies of Jewish customs and manners to make it absolute.

The Gospel was a revelation of a long-held mystery of God, but the legal system of salvation was already out-of-date. the Anointed One came to complete what God started with Abraham and Moses. The water of life through the Gospel was filtered and pure, no mixture of other man-made taste enhancing elements were permitted. To drink such a concoction was to invite spiritual sickness and death. Paul was not so concerned about what it did to their bodies, but its harmful effect on their souls. The days of earning one’s salvation were over, now it was a gift of God through grace. So why did the Galatians so quickly discarded such a wonderful gift from God? Paul could not comprehend it.6

John Brown (1800-1874) feels that one of the contributing factors in the sudden turning away from the Gospel by some of the Galatians was due to the fact that they were Christians in name only. Brown states emphatically, “No man is ‘born again’ till he is ‘born of the Spirit’.7 As far as he’s concerned there is very little, if anything, that exposes the religious and moral depravity of some church-goers than this. Pretending to be what something or someone you are not is bad enough, but pretending to be a child of God is even worse. This is caused by the fact that no one can ever really understand and believe and live a holy Christian life until they become a new creation through the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be rationalized, manufactured, or successfully imitated. The principles of the Christian faith cannot be memorized or mimicked by constant practice. They are built from within by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God.

I like the way John Edmunds (1801-1874) paraphrases verse six: “I marvel that you are so soon changing sides.” That certainly encapsulates what was going on between the “works” crowd and the “faith” crew. And we know who the Apostle Paul was rooting for. But what caught him by surprise was their “couldn’t care less” attitude about losing him as a mentor and so willingly to let these intruders steal the joy the Gospel brought to them by faith in Jesus the Anointed One. Instead of walking forward by faith, they were backsliding into heresy.8 On top of that, they were forsaking the One who called them out of the sin’s slavery in heathenism into the light of sonship through the Anointed One.

It is important to keep in mind that the One who called the Apostle was not Paul himself, nor the Anointed One alone, but God Himself through the Anointed One, through Ananias, then to the Apostle Paul.9 This should not seem strange to us because Jesus said that He was sent to do His Father’s will, and Paul was called by the Anointed One to do the same Father’s will. So instead of these misguided Galatians thinking that they were only severing their ties with Paul, or planning to serve the Anointed One by a different way, Paul reminds them that they are disobeying their One True God. The same goes for all of us who for some reason do not feel that the Bible is relevant for today, or that the emphasis on the Anointed One’s crucifixion and resurrection as important in making people feel loved by God are doing the same thing.10

Philip Schaff (1819-1893) cautions that we must understand what Paul means by “another” gospel. The Greek adjective heteros can be used either to mean “another of the same, another kind, or any other,” when it comes to quantity. It can also be used to mean “another, one not of the same nature, form, class, kind, different,” when it comes to quality. Heteros is the root word from which we get the English word, heterosexual. Whether the person is of the male or female gender, they are both a type of human being in quantity. Yet, you can tell them apart because when it comes to procreation, one can do what the other cannot do. That’s what makes them different in quality.

Schaff agrees with Thayer’s Greek Lexicon that points to heteros as something not of the same nature, form, class, or kind. This is a different conclusion than what some other scholars came to. They say it was more of an imitation or modification of the true Gospel. In Paul’s Gospel, the work of Jesus the Anointed One led to salvation, while in the Judaizers version works of the Law facilitated one’s salvation. Schaff says that what the Judaizers produced was not deserving of the term “gospel” – namely, the Good News of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, salvation, and everlasting life with God. Both the Law and the Anointed One, – the Word made flesh, were both ordained of God. But the Law was the prototype while the Anointed One was the finished product.11

W. A. O’Conor (1820-1887) has an interesting analogy on what the Judaizers were trying to do in Galatia. As he sees it, perversion of doctrine is usually one in a long line of circumstances that succeed each other by a fixed law. Men corrupt their creed in order to bring it into consistency with their degenerate conduct. There was not enough time for this process in the case of the Galatians. Paul wonders at their change from real to token religion before a sufficient period of time elapsed for their zeal to cool, and their faith to be infringed upon by the world. He expected much better things from them.12 This would really make suspect their change in faith to begin with. It looks like Christianity was nothing more than a substitute for heathenism for some of them.

That’s what happened after the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity in 312 AD ended Roman persecution of Christians and began imperial patronage of the Christian churches. A public holiday celebrated around December 25th in the family home was a time for feasting, goodwill, generosity to the poor, the exchange of gifts and the decoration of trees. This was Saturnalia, the pagan Roman winter solstice festival. So in order to get the Romans to convert to Christianity, December 25th was declared a religious church holiday in honor of the birth of Jesus the Anointed One. So a mass was started in honor of Christ. That’s how it became known as Christ-mass.

For Alvah Hovey (1820-1903), the abruptness with which Paul introduces the occasion for his Epistle reveals his intense and painful anxiety – an anxiousness mingled with surprise that was hard to express. The Greek verb thaumazō which is translated “marvel,” occurs very often in the Final Covenant, and in the KJV is frequently rendered as “wonder,” once each as “admiration” and “admire.” It may denote either a joyful or a painful surprise,13 a sudden and powerful emotion occasioned by something that is very admirable or very dreadful, and in either case unexpected. Whether Paul meant he was astonished at how quickly the Galatians changed their minds due to the shortness of times since he left them around 53 AD and when he wrote this letter in 56 AD or the time between when the Judaizers arrived and the Galatians yielded in some measure to their new doctrine. In any case, it happened faster than Paul would have ever expected it to.14

1 Matthew 28:19

2 Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament: by William Burkitt, Published by James Dinnis, London, 1832, Vol. II, p. 301

3 Adam Clarke: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

4 Johann Albert Fabricius (1668-1736) was a German classical scholar who published the Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti in 1703 which included such works as the Gospel of the Ebionites, the Egyptians, Marcion, Peter, Twelve Apostles, Barnabas and Bartholomew, etc.

5 Ibid. Adam Clarke

6 James Haldane: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 36-37

7 John Brown: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 37

8 Cf. Philippians 2:19, 24

9 See Galatians 1:15; 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 5:4; 2 Timothy 1:9

10 John Edmunds: On Galatians, op. cit., pp. 19-20

11 Popular Commentary, (Ed.) by Philip Schaff, op. cit., p. 296

12 O’Conor, W. A.: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 5–6

13 See Matthew 8:10; Mark 6:6

14 Hovey, A: On Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 15 (See also J. B. Lightfoot, loc. cit.)

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POINTS TO PONDER

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William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), English poet, editor, and critic. At age 12 Henley was diagnosed with tubercular arthritis that necessitated the amputation of one of his legs just below the knee; the other foot was saved only through a radical surgery performed by Joseph Lister, inventor of Listerine. As he healed in the infirmary, Henley began to write poems, including “Invictus,” the last line of which reads: “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” Henley died at the age of 53 as the result of tuberculosis.

A Filipina living in Los Angeles named Lourdes M. Cabrera once replied to the question of why are we masters of our fate and captains of our souls by saying that we are truly masters of our faith, and captains of our souls. For every action we take, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is an eternal reality, not because there is material reaction to all actions but because we are creating the forces to push our dreams into fruition. We usually dream, and this dream we inserted an equally powerful intellectual imagination. Any thought created by the mind is an energy force that seeks its realizing what we desire. This energy forces are not seen by the naked eye, but it is laden with force and power from the emotions. once these thoughts are materialized, we receive the effect which is the realization of that dream.1

Another individual, Zeke Le Rossignol who studied at the University of Tasmania in Australia wrote that Invictus, the poem from which it came, is meant to be a Stoic poem, as such ‘master’ should not be interpreted as ‘boss’ as this would actually be contrary to the philosophies teachings, but as more like “master of a craft” (i.e. optionality in life and in the face of circumstance), while “captain of my soul” refers to being in control of ones thoughts and feelings (via the dichotomy of control).2

But Caroline Coleman on her blog “A Chapter a Day,” looks at the incidents in Luke’s Gospel, chapter nineteen and informs us that Invictus is the Latin word for “unconquered.” But when we look at those among world leaders who push back against the tides of world opinion and the census of their own people just to look strong. As the President of Syria, the Ayatollah of Iran, and the defeated president Maduro of Venezuela demonstrate, sometimes it is good to be conquered. Why? Because sometimes we humans can be stubbornly, pigheadedly wrong. We can go charging off into the darkness, like untamed horses. We can all spot an adult who was spoiled as a child. How? Because they’re a nightmare to be with… There is something inside the human soul that needs conquering.

The Bible teaches that there is something inside each human that only the gentle loving hand of God can conquer. Why? Because we are blind to our darkness. We are blind to faults that are glaringly obvious to us when we see them in others. In addition, sometimes we can see our own faults – and yet feel helpless to change them. The harder someone tells us to change, the more we buck against them and their words.

She goes on to say that the only way we can become masters of our fate and captains of our soul is to turn ourselves over the Master of the winds and wave as the captain of our ship. After all, we do have control of our will and ability to let God and the Holy Spirit to have control of us. That way, we become victors by giving up. But we don’t need to wait until we get to the end of our rope or find ourselves in a predicament from which we cannot extract ourselves. When we let God take our stubbornness, pride, insecurity, anxiety and fears, He will exchange them for peace through His presence and wisdom.

So if we truly want to be the master of our fate and the captain of our soul then let Jesus the Anointed One take control of our lives. When we come to the realization that we need to let go of the wheel and let God have His way in our lives, it’s the best thing any person can do to guarantee their fate. As the Apostle Paul told the Colossians: By Jesus the Anointed One’s power all things were made: things in heaven and on earth, seen and not seen – all spiritual rulers, lords, powers, and authorities. Everything was made through Him and for Him. The Son was there before anything was made. And all things continue because of Him. Can you find anyone with more power and authority to guide your life? So why hesitate? – Dr. Robert R Seyda

1 From Quora, December 3, 2017

2 Ibid. December 1, 2017

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

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OUR MOTHERS OF FAITH

The kind lady who wrote this story seems to have not signed her name on purpose. After reading this you’ll know why. The Bible tells us that having faith is believing what you cannot see. You just know by faith that it’s there. In many cases, our Mothers were believed to be there for us by faith. Let this woman’s story tell you her experience about being a Mother by Faith.

She said it all began to make sense to her one day, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids walked into the room while she was on the phone and without even looking at her asked to be taken to the mall. Inside she was thinking, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?” Obviously not; no one can see if she’s on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on her head in the corner, because no one could see her at all. She was invisible! The invisible Mom!

Some days she was only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days she felt like being an object of artificial intelligence. She was a clock, “What time is it?” She was a TV guide, “What number is the Disney Channel?” She was an Uber driver, “Please pick me up around 5:30, please.” Some days she was a crystal ball; “Where’s my other sock?, Where’s my phone?, What’s for dinner?”

She was certain that hers were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music, and Early American literature – but now they were covered with peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, pouring Kool Aid or Seven-up into glasses.

One night, a group of her friends were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. She just got back from a fabulous trip, and she telling everyone about the hotel she stayed in, the food she ate, the sights she saw, etc. While sitting there, this lady looked around at the others whose kids were already grown and were thinking of taking the same trip. She suddenly realized she was feeling sorry for herself.

It was then that her friend who just returned from England handed her a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I brought you this just for you.” It was a book on the magnificent cathedrals of Europe. This lady wasn’t exactly sure why she was giving it to her until she read the inscription: “With admiration for the greatness of what you are building that no one sees.”

It finally all came together in the days following, when she would read – every free minute she had. And there she discovered what would become for her, four life-changing truths, after which she could pattern her work:

  • No one can say who built the great cathedrals of Europe – we have no record of their names.
  • These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
  • They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
  • The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

What struck her most was a story in the book that told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it?” The workman replied, “Because God sees it.”

She closed the book, feeling the missing pieces fall into place in her heart and mind. It was almost as if she heard God whispering to her, “I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.” No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on a dress, no cupcake you’ve baked, no sleepovers for her daughters friends that she made a happy occasion by serving sandwiches and doughnuts, no last minute errand is too small for Me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become until I show it to you some day.

She developed right perspective after she saw herself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals would ever be completed in one’s lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When she really thought about it, she didn’t want her daughter to tell her friends that her mother was inviting her home from college for Thanksgiving, and letting them know: “My Mom gets up at four in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.” That would mean she was building a monument to herself. She just wanted her to come home of her own free will. And then, if there is anything more to say to her friends, she’d say, “You’re gonna love my Mom!”

To all the mothers on this coming Mother’s Day, you are building magnificent cathedrals. You must remain unseen if you’re doing it the right way. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what you have built, but at the beauty it has added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers like yourselves.

But keep in mind, there’s One to whom you are not invisible, and that’s your heavenly Father. Jesus said He was going away to prepare a place for all of us. But, in using our imagination, once it’s prepared, the Father will be your personal decorator. And don’t be surprised if on all the walls are pictures of you doing all the things you did for your husband, children, neighbors, friends, church and God. They will be eternal precious memories that bring you everlasting joy. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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