Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4
Thesis: The reaction of retaliation is both ungodly and evidence of untrustworthiness.
Introduction: In our last study we saw that the Galatians were being confronted with the age old question: whom should I believe? At issue is the quality of one's experience in both time and eternity. Underwriting that solemn reality is a secondary one: that quality of experience is directly tied to the pervasive impact of "faith". "Faith" in a lie will eventually ruin one's entire life; whereas "faith" in a truth will eventually lead one out into the boundless experience of the Joy of Life. Because what we believe is critical for time and eternity, it is the most natural thing in the world to ask "whom should I believe?".
Paul's answer to that question is an addendum to chapters one and two. Those chapters set forth the basis for faith in biblical truth. But, what Paul has to say in the paragraph before us this evening addresses something that chapters one and two do not really address. How do we tell "whom to believe" when there is no apostle on the scene?
March 31, 2013
- I. Most Basic of All: The Nuances of the Message of the Cross.
- A. In 3:1 Paul made "the crucifixion of the Christ" the ultimate core issue of all theology.
- 1. There is no attribute of God that does not have a most fundamental explanation in the crucifixion of the Christ.
- a. It is the crux of "the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:24).
- b. It explains at least some of the boundaries of the use of, and refusal to use, omnipotence (Matthew 27:40).
- c. It stands as the measure of the Love of God (John 3:16).
- d. It presents the unfathomable issue of the Unity of God with plurality of personality.
- e. It is the most direct example of the Justice of God (Romans 3:26).
- f. ETC.
- 2. The reference in our text (5:11) to "the cross" pushes us back to this core.
- B. In our current text, Paul references the "offence" ("scandal") of the Cross.
- 1. The word is used in the New Testament to refer to anything that is sufficiently offensive as to cause a person to react in an ungodly way.
- a. The word is selected by Paul to summarize the particularly "Jewish" reaction to the message of the Grace of God demonstrated in the Cross (1 Corinthians 1:23).
- 1) Since the particularly "Jewish" fault is "pride of status", the Cross cuts pretty deep.
- 2) It is no accident that the majority of Galatians is rooted in "Jewish" opposition.
- b. The issue of a "cause" of ungodliness is greater than a mere irritation.
- 2. At issue in our text is the actual reaction of ungodliness: the persecution of those with whom one disagrees.
- a. Here we must think carefully because of both 5:10 and 5:12.
- 1. Both of these verses reveal a strong antagonism in Paul toward those who oppose his Gospel.
- 2. At issue in the actual reaction of ungodliness is not what a person wants to see happen; it is what a person is willing to do to see his/her wants fulfilled.
- b. Paul's argument boils down to this: you cannot trust anyone to tell you the truth if that one has a propensity to violence in the pursuit of his/her wants.
- 1. The ultimate expression of "faith" is turning our wants over to Him.
- 2. Thus, the ultimate expression of "unbelief" is keeping our hands upon the fulfillment of our wants.
- II. The Apostolic Argument.
- A. The apostle refuses to preach "circumcision".
- 1. This means he refuses to insist upon outcomes being tied to human "obedience" to divine imperatives.
- 2. This means he insists upon all outcomes being tied to Grace.
- B. The apostle clearly insists upon the connection between "persecution" and "doctrine".
- 1. The false brethren have a doctrine of human sufficiency in obedience and runs to dishing out consequences automatically.
- 2. The true "brethren" depend upon the Grace of God in all things so that they deliberately refuse to "force" issues of "justice".
- C. The larger point is that "persecutors" automatically disqualify themselves as sources of true doctrine.