Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2
Thesis: The way God works in history is the ultimate argument for how His words are to be interpreted.
Introduction: In our last study we considered that Paul insisted that the Galatians begin to do some serious and careful thinking about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the light of the prophetic word. From this we know that God requires that we believe what He says as the bottom line of any kind of real restoration of harmony between Him and us. The reason salvation is by grace is easily seen by means of human (sinful) action: no man can tame the sinful impulses of the flesh and, if salvation is up to him to accomplish, he will perish forever. The reason salvation is through faith is also easily seen by means of human reason: there can be no harmony between persons who do not trust one another. Thus, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, established by prophecy and subsequent fulfillment, is the major focus of the content of both grace and faith. Grace is God doing for a man what He required of the man; and faith is man yielding to the obvious reality and nature of this grace and depending upon it in his daily "thinking".
This evening we are going to look at Paul's main question: how did the Galatians "receive the Spirit"?
October 23, 2011
- I. The Centrality of Paul's Question.
- A. First, it is asked in our text as a "this only would I learn" fundamental.
- 1. As a first thought, the question of how the Galatians received the Spirit is the central issue of "wisdom" in contrast to "foolishness".
- 2. As a first thought, the question is one of actual, personal, past experience.
- a. On the basis of what God said, what does your experience say that He did?
- b. Because God is rigorously consistent in this arena (speech played out in history), those who "believe" have a strong and indisputable foundation to continue to do so.
- 1) This, according to 1:6, is the issue: continuing what they initially did.
- 2) This, because Paul's Gospel hangs everything about man's experience of God's love upon whether the man believes about God's love, is the heart of the matter.
- c. Because there is not even the slightest shimmer of a shifting shadow in God's integrity, it is of the utmost significance that man's thinking about God must begin with what He says, and must develop according to how His speech is played out in actual history.
- d. Paul's insistence upon these principles indicates very clearly that we live in a setting where men are bombarded with lies because of the effect of those lies upon these principles.
- B. Second, it is repeated in 5:5 at the end of this paragraph (the paragraph turns around the axis of the question of how God imparts Life to men).
- II. The Actual Content of Paul's Question.
- A. In your personal experience, how did you receive the Spirit of God?
- 1. That the debate has been, up to this point, the argument over whether God justifies those who obey, or those who believe makes the question a bit of a puzzle.
- 2. What has the reception of the Spirit to do with "justification"?
- a. First, it is the only tangible evidence that you have been "justified".
- 1) Justification is a mental action in the mind of God.
- 2) As such there is no way a man can tell if he is justified by God.
- 3) Therefore, the fruit of justification must be the means of that knowledge.
- 4) Paul does not argue that such "fruit" consists of lifestyle changes.
- 5) The bottom line of the promise is reconciliation and the coming of the Spirit is the evidence that such reconciliation has occurred.
- b. Second, "justification" is simply a means to a greater end: eternal Life.
- 1) Justification is the initial point of Life for one cause: it erases the conflict between God and the justified.
- 2) The Spirit is the heart and soul of Eternal Life.
- B. Was it your personal experience that God gave you His Spirit after you had entered into a legal covenant with Him regarding what you had to do to get Him to give His Spirit to you?
- 1. Was the Gospel that you heard Paul preach a message of such a legal covenant with a clear delineation of what was required of you?
- 2. Did you do what Paul proclaimed was necessary for you to do so that God gave you His Spirit out of the principle of "law/works"?
- C. Or was it your personal experience that God gave you His Spirit in the point of time that you heard that Jesus Christ was prophesied to be the redeeming sacrifice for your sins and was put to death accordingly so that He was the Object of your confidence that God would forgive you?
- 1. Was Paul's message a message wherein God made no demands of you before He gave you His Spirit?
- 2. Did you believe that message?
- III. The Answer is Not Hard.
- A. There was absolutely no question about what Paul preached and what happened at the point of faith in it.
- B. That others came along afterward and muddied the waters is quite beside the point and has nothing to do with the original experience.