by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4 October 31, 2010 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(036)Thesis:Because the curse upon all who preach a different gospel stands inviolable, we have to conclude that "faith" does not "fail".
Introduction:As we look into Galatians this evening we are confronted by Paul's pronouncement of a "curse" upon any and every one who preaches a different gospel. By his own words, this "curse" would even apply to himself if he changed his message. To emphasize his point, he says that it would even apply to an angel from heaven if said angel disagreed with Paul's historical message (the one the Galatians first heard and received). This pronouncement of such a "curse" has all kinds of implications, some of which we plan to consider this evening.
I. What Is the Nature of the "Curse"?
A. The term Paul used is only found six times in the New Testament and two of those are in the text before us.
B. The four non-Galatian uses are Acts 23:14, Romans 9:3, 1 Corinthians 12:3 and 1 Corinthians 16:22.
1. In Acts 23:14 we can only imagine the "great curse", but it had to have been extreme or it would have carried no weight.
2. In Romans 9:3 Paul clearly implies that his willingness to be "accursed from Christ" means something equivalent to "paying the ultimate (redemptive) price" as also Moses did in Exodus 32:32.
3. 1 Corinthians 12:3 indicates an evaluation of Jesus as "under the curse of being a false prophet".
4. 1 Corinthians 16:22 is a (theologically) shocking statement in that Paul places anyone who does not have a certain form of "love" for the Lord Jesus Christ under this "cursedness".
a. The "form" of love in this statement is that form which has to do with powerful emotional attachment as indicated in Matthew 10:37.
b. This reveals that the real issue in doctrinal purity is a potent emotional attachment to Jesus and the Father and is part of the reason for Galatians 1:6's most fundamental accusation -- permitting themselves to be "removed" from the Father.
C. We can only conclude that the nature of the curse is eternal Death.
II. How "Real" Is the Pronouncement?
A. "Reality" has to do with whether there is any "real world" possibility of the scenario.
1. Linguistically, Paul offers the possibilities of his own alteration of the Gospel and that of some "angel from heaven" ("if" plus the present subjunctive mood of the verb).
2. However, the "general biblical revelation" (an occasionally legitimate phrase) regarding "angels from heaven" is that they have already faced their point of decision regarding loyalty to God so that there are currently no "angels from heaven" who face the possibility of the terms of Paul's "curse".
3. Additionally, in Galatians Paul himself makes the promotion of any altered gospel an indication of being of the category of "false brethren" (2:4) and the actual movement from the God of Grace to an altered gospel an indication of being outside the realm of true conversion (4:11) and an action that leaves one unprofited by the works of Jesus (5:4).
B. The "tension" of "contrary possibility" needs to be addressed.
III. Why Does Paul Set Up Such "Opposition"?
A. On one hand, this method of presentation highlights and emphasizes what is "at stake" in the discussion: the truthfulness and content of Paul's original message in Galatia.
B. On another hand, the issue of human participation with God in Life is deliberately presented in the Scriptures as an "iffy" thing, dependent entirely upon the "faith" side of the coin.
1. Because every man's participation in the Life of God is "faith-dependent" and because men are characteristically more "unbelieving" than "believing", there is no biblical presentation of man's ability to participate with God without "faith".
2. Too much focus upon a "one point in time 'belief'" resulting in the ability to participate in eternal glory tends in the direction of "license".
a. The "general biblical revelation" is that of a person being "born again" at a given "point in time" because of the yielding of "faith" at that point in time.
b. But the "general biblical revelation" is also that of "faith" always being an "on-going" reality that cannot be conceived of as simply a "point in time" reality.
c. The issue between "point in time" and "continuing" is that "faith" always has a beginning "point" and can be referred to in that way, but to think that "faith" can "begin" and then "cease" without eternal consequence is completely foreign to biblical revelation.
C. And, then, thirdly, the actual development of "faith" requires dealing with the "tensions" and coming through the process without jettisoning the truth originally believed.
1. Peter is the "classic" illustration and, according to Jesus' words, the subjection of him to the sifting of the devil both required Jesus' prayer "that his faith fail not" and wouldresult in his ability to "strengthen the brethren" (Luke 22:32).
2. And, as always, the "iffy" part of the equation is always on man's "faith" side of the coin.
a. Genesis 22:12 reveals that "faith" is only genuinely known after the testing has proven its reality.
b. Men regularly claim more faith than they actually possess and the production of genuine fruit requires that they come to grips with the reality, not the self-exalting delusional notions.