Today’s devotion comes from Galatians 3:10-14.

“For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse;  for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident;  for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”  However, the Law is not of faith;  on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  Galatians 3:10-14.

———————–

“But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.”  Galatians 2:4.

We can paraphrase this “party of the circumcision”:  “What is wrong with requiring circumcision?  It is such a little thing.  It is the right thing to do.  Our fathers in the faith have practiced it for thousands of years.  And, it will keep everyone happy.”

But, what did Paul say?

“Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.  And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.  You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law;  you have fallen from grace.”  Galatians 5:2-4.

“A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.  I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view;  but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is.  But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted?  Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.  I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.”  Galatians 5:9-12.

Circumcision was a little part of the Law.  But, it was dangerous in that it lead to a practice of trying to achieve righteousness through the works of the Law rather than through  faith.  “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.”  Galatians 5:9.  “However, the Law is not of faith;  on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”  Verse 12.

But, Paul was also not talking only about circumcision, nor even more generally ceremonial law, when he uses the term “Law”.  The Law also covers the Ten Commandments as the following Scripture clearly states.  

“What shall we say then?  Is the Law sin?  May it never be!  On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law;  for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”  But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind;  for apart from the Law sin is dead.  I was once alive apart from the Law;  but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;  and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;  for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.”  Romans 7:7-11.

In today’s Scripture, Paul uses this strong language.  “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse;  for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident;  for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”  However, the Law is not of faith;  on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”  Verses 10-12.

“Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?  So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”  Galatians 3:3-5.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free;  therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”  Galatians 5:1.

“For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”  Romans 7:5.

“For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.”  Galatians 2:18.

“You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law;  you have fallen from grace.”  Galatians 5:4.

But, there is hope!

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba!  Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son;  and if a son, then an heir through God.”  Galatians 4:4-7.

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:24-26.

“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us;  and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”  Colossians 2:13-15.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,  by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.”  Ephesians 2:13-16.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.  For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”  Romans 7:4-6.

“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.”  Galatians 2:19.

“I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  Verses 20-21.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  Verses 13-14.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | August 10, 2020

“He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises”

Today’s devotion comes from Galatians 3:6-9.

“Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.  The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”  So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”  Galatians 3:6-9.

————————–

“In hope against hope he (Abraham) believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.”  Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;  yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.  Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”  Romans 4:18-25.

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6.

“Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,”  Romans 4:4-5.

“It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”  Psalm 127:2.

“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”  Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”  John 6:27-29.

“For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.  For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;  for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.”  Romans 4:13-15.

“What I am saying is this:  the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.  For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise;  but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.”  Galatians 3:17-18.

“nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.”  That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.”  Romans 9:7-8.

“For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  Romans 9:15-16.

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called;  and these whom He called, He also justified;  and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”  Romans 8:29-32.

Article 9.  This election was not founded upon foreseen faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality of disposition in man, as the pre-requisite, cause or condition on which it depended;  but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc., therefore election is the fountain of every saving good;  from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to that of the apostle:  “He hath chosen us (not because we were) but that we should be holy, and without blame, before him in love,”  Ephesians 1:4.  Canons of Dordt in section “FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of Divine Predestination”.

“And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.”  Galatians 4:28.

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;  seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”  2 Peter 1:2-4.

“For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.”  And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.  For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.  In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.”  Hebrews 6:13-18.

“Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed;  all came to pass.”  Joshua 21:45.

“This is the promise which He Himself made to us:  eternal life.”  1 John 2:25.

Today’s devotion comes from Galatians 3:1-5.

“You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?  This is the only thing I want to find out from you:  did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?  Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?  So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”  Galatians 3:1-5.

——————–

“For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;  but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  1 Corinthians 1:22-24.

Thus, “Christ crucified” is the object of our faith.  So, it is essential that we not just generally focus on the importance of faith.  As Paul intends by his exclamation in the first verse, we first need to start and be confronted with the truth of what was accomplished by Christ on the cross, “Christ crucified”, the object of our faith.

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  1 Corinthians 1:18.

The word of the cross is not that God offers salvation for man to accept or reject by his own wisdom and alleged free-will.

“Christ crucified” is more than an offer.  “Christ crucified” is the power of God to save all those, and only those, whom He elects from the whole human race.

If “Christ crucified” is just an offer, then what good is it?  As Scripture teaches and as is summarized by Reformed Doctrine as “Total Depravity”, all in the human race in their natural condition are dead in sin, unable to understand and seek God, unable to do good, hostile to God, and in bondage to sin and Satan.  Without the power of God, God’s “Irresistible Grace”, no one would choose Christ!

Regarding God’s election, consider the following from the Canons of Dordt in the section titled “FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of Divine Predestination”.

Article 7.  Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of Salvation.

This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than the others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them to his communion by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification;  and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally, to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace;  …”  

Regarding what was accomplished by “Christ crucified”, consider the following from the Canons of Dordt in the section titled “SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby”.  Through Christ’s death of the cross, Christ “should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death”.  Christ “should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father” and provide all that was necessary for their salvation.

Article 8.  For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation:  that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father;  that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death;  should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing;  and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.

After this meditation on what was accomplished by Christ on the cross, we proceed to a study of faith.

What is faith?

Consider the following from the major Reformed creeds:  Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dordt.

Article 22:  Of Faith in Jesus Christ.

We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Ghost kindleth in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing more besides him.  For it must needs follow, either that all things, which are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ, or if all things are in him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith, have complete salvation in him.  Therefore, for any to assert, that Christ is not sufficient, but that something more is required besides him, would be too gross a blasphemy:  for hence it would follow, that Christ was but half a Savior.  Therefore we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith without works.  However, to speak more clearly, we do not mean, that faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our Righteousness.  But Jesus Christ, imputing to us all his merits and so many holy works which he has done for us, and in our stead, is our Righteousness.  And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with him in all his benefits, which, when become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.  Belgic Confession.

Q. 21.  What is true faith?

A.  True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also an assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel in my heart;  that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.  Heidelberg Catechism.

Article 14.  Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on account of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his pleasure;  but because it is in reality conferred, breathed, and infused into him;  or even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should by the exercise of his own free will, consent to the terms of that salvation, and actually believe in Christ;  but because he who works in man both to will and to do, and indeed all things in all, produces both the will to believe, and the act of believing also.  Canons of Dordt in the section titled “THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof”.

In summary, faith is a gift of God obtained by Christ through His death on the cross.  Faith is not a product of man’s wisdom or alleged free-will.  Faith is wrought by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, which faith consists of both knowledge and confidence:  knowledge of what Scripture reveals of salvation and assured confidence that God has saved me and provided all that I need for salvation.  Faith is only an instrument which keeps us in communion with Christ and all of the benefits that He obtained for us on the cross.

“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”  1 Corinthians 2:2-5.

“I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  Galatians 2:20.

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, …”  Hebrews 12:2.

Today’s devotion comes from Galatians 2:11-21.

“But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.  For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles;  but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.  The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.  But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

“We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles;  nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law;  since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.  But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin?  May it never be!  For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.  For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  Galatians 2:11-21.

——————-

“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.”  Verse 19.

“For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”  Romans 7:5.

“What shall we say then?  Is the Law sin?  May it never be!  On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law;  for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”  But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind;  for apart from the Law sin is dead.  I was once alive apart from the Law;  but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;  and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;  for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.”  Romans 7:7-11.

Some teach that the Law in today’s Scripture refers to only circumcision or the ceremonial law.  But, we clearly see the above Scripture refers to the Ten Commandments including “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” 

The Canons of Dordt recognizes it in the following article in the section titled “THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof” by use of the term “decalogue” which refers to Ten Commandments.

Article 5.  In the same light are we to consider the law of the decalogue, delivered by God to his peculiar people the Jews, by the hands of Moses.  For though it discovers the greatness of sin, and more and more convinces man thereof, yet as it neither points out a remedy, nor imparts strength to extricate him from misery, and thus being weak through the flesh, leaves the transgressor under the curse, man cannot by this law obtain saving grace.

Yes, certainly the Ten Commandments are good.  “So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”  Romans 7:12.

But, as “holy and righteous and good” as the Ten Commandments are, the problem again is sin.  “But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind;  for apart from the Law sin is dead.  I was once alive apart from the Law;  but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;  and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;  for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.”  Romans 7:8-11.

But, there is hope!

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.  For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”  Romans 7:4-6.

“I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  Verses 20-21.

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba!  Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son;  and if a son, then an heir through God.”  Galatians 4:4-7.

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:24-26.

“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us;  and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”  Colossians 2:13-15.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,  by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.”  Ephesians 2:13-16.

But, some also teach that after conversion, we should subject ourselves to the Ten Commandments.

What does today’s Scripture state?

“For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.”  Verse 18.

“You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law;  you have fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”  Galatians 5:4-5.

Consider the following Scripture, understanding that Mount Sinai represents the Ten Commandments, the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments and gave them to the people.

“Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?  For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman.  But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.  This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants:  one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves;  she is Hagar.  Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.  But the Jerusalem above is free;  she is our mother.  For it is written,

“REJOICE, BARREN WOMAN WHO DOES NOT BEAR;
BREAK FORTH AND SHOUT, YOU WHO ARE NOT IN LABOR;
FOR MORE NUMEROUS ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE DESOLATE
THAN OF THE ONE WHO HAS A HUSBAND.”

And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.  But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.  But what does the Scripture say?

“CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON,
FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN.”

So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.”  Galatians 4:21-31.

“For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse;  for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident;  for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”  However, the Law is not of faith;  on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  Galatians 3:10-14.

Today’s devotion comes from Galatians 2:6-10.

“But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me;  God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me.  But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.  They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.”  Galatians 2:6-10.

——————–

It is a wonderful thing to recognize God’s work in others.

Paul recognized God’s work in Peter:  “(for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles)”  Verse 8.

And, James, Cephas (another name for Peter), and John recognized God’s work in Paul:  “and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”  Verse 9.

But, it is also a wonderful thing to recognize God giving us the will to do His work.  Both Paul and the group of James and Cephas and John recognized that God had given each of them the will to care for the poor.  “They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.”  Verse 10.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.  There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.”  1 Corinthians 12:4-6.

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:11-13.

Today’s devotion comes from Galatians 2:1-5.

“Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.  It was because of a revelation that I went up;  and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.  But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.  But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.  But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.”  Galatians 2:1-5.

———————-

For Paul, who was “circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews;  as to the Law, a Pharisee;  as to zeal, a persecutor of the church;  as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” (Philippians 3:5-6), it would have been easy for him to satisfy those who wanted to bring his group into the bondage of the Law.

“But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.”  Verse 5.  Paul refused to pervert the truth of the gospel, which is the freedom and liberty “which we have in Christ Jesus”.  Paul knew that the Galatians were watching him closely, and this was “the truth of the gospel”.

Paul later said to the Galatians:  “It was for freedom that Christ set us free;  therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.  And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.  You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law;  you have fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”  Galatians 5:1-5.

Immediately following the list of his credentials to appear righteous according to the Law in the first paragraph above, Paul stated:  “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”  Philippians 3:7-9.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.  For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

What shall we say then?  Is the Law sin?  May it never be!  On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law;  for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”  But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind;  for apart from the Law sin is dead.”  Romans 7:4-8.

“For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.  For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.”  Galatians 2:18-19.

This is a special devotion based on the following Scripture.

“For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people?  Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”

The LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken;  for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.”  Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!”  And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you;  and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”  But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”  Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock;  and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.  Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”  Exodus 33:16-23.

———————-

Moses asked two questions which God answered by which we can learn how we can know that we are the elect, God’s chosen people.  Moses asked:  “For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people?  Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”  Verse 16.

Although God did directly state that He favored Moses, He said more which helps us learn how we can know that we are the elect, God’s chosen people.

“And He (God) said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you;  and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”  Verse 19.

In other words, after God’s goodness to us (so to speak, after God’s goodness passes before us), God makes us understand by His Spirit that He was good to us and thereby makes us understand that we are His elect, His chosen people.

As God covered Moses with His hand, often we do not understand God’s goodness to us until it passes us by.  We see something approach, but it often may appear meaningless or it even may appear bad to us.  But, after it passes by, God reveals by His Spirit that it was a blessing to us and that He is continually faithful and good to us.

We can understand this point through “TULIP”, and we can also understand this point through our many daily life experiences.

Regarding the points of “TULIP”, although God the Father was certainly good to us before the foundation of the world when He unconditionally elected us, “Unconditional Election”, obviously we were not yet born to understand His goodness to us at that time.  When Christ, God the Son, died for us, “Limited Atonement”, we were also not yet born at that time to understand all the saving gifts that he purchased for us through His death.  We also were not aware at the time when the Holy Spirit, God the Spirit, pervaded our inmost recesses and softened our hardened heart and infused new qualities into our will and caused us rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit  (“Irresistible Grace”).  Finally, we have thought during times of our life that we were drifting away from God, but God preserved us (“Preservation of the Saints”).

Regarding our many daily life experiences, many times we also do not understand the benefit of what we experience at that time.  But, the Spirit later reveals to us how they were blessings to us and the Spirit also causes us to understand that God was continually faithful and good to us.

“9 but just as it is written,

“THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
AND WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit;  for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”  1 Corinthians 2:9-10.

Thus, in summary, after we receive God’s goodness, the Spirit reveals to us that they were blessings to us, the Spirit causes us to understand that God was continually faithful and good to us, and the Spirit causes us to understand that we are the elect, God’s chosen people.

Now, why does God make us wait?  Why cannot we see from the beginning that the thing that approaches us is for our good?

“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope;  for who hopes for what he already sees?”  Romans 8:24.

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”  1 Peter 1:6-7.

There is also the danger that we would get proud and fat and lazy (rather than be humble and dependent on the Lord) if we could see from the beginning that the thing that approaches us is for our good.

“3 For I was envious of the arrogant
As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For there are no pains in their death,
And their body is fat.
5 They are not in trouble as other men,
Nor are they plagued like mankind.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
The garment of violence covers them.
7 Their eye bulges from fatness;
The imaginations of their heart run riot.
8 They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;
They speak from on high.
9 They have set their mouth against the heavens,
And their tongue parades through the earth.”  Psalm 73:3-9.

We may wonder and have to wait, but there is hope!

“16 When I pondered to understand this,
It was troublesome in my sight
17 Until I came into the sanctuary of God;
Then I perceived their end.
18 Surely You set them in slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction.”  Psalm 73:16-18.

“The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant.”  Psalm 25:14.

Here is what the Canon of Dordt states in part about how we can learn that we are the elect, God’s chosen people, in the section titled FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of Divine Predestination.

Article 12.  The elect in due time, though in various degrees and in different measures, attain the assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election, not by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things of God, but by observing in themselves with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure, the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the Word of God – such as a true faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, etc.

Article 16.  Those who do not yet experience a lively faith in Christ, an assured confidence of soul, peace of conscience, an earnest endeavor after filial obedience, and glorying in God through Christ, efficaciously wrought in them, and do nevertheless persist in the use of the means which God hath appointed for working these graces in us, ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation, nor to rank themselves among the reprobate, but diligently to persevere in the use of means, and with ardent desires, devoutly and humbly to wait for a season of richer grace.  Much less cause have they to be terrified by the doctrine of reprobation, who, though they seriously desire to be turned to God, to please him only, and to be delivered from the body of death, cannot yet reach that measure of holiness and faith to which they aspire;  since a merciful God has promised that he will not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed.  But this doctrine is justly terrible to those, who, regardless of God and of the Savior Jesus Christ, have wholly given themselves up to the cares of the world, and the pleasures of the flesh, so long as they are not seriously converted to God.

God showed in His glory to Moses, and to us today, that He deserves all credit for our salvation.

Moses prayed:  “show me Your glory!”

We often so focus on speculating on the awesome physical sight of what Moses saw, namely the back of the LORD, that we neglect the glory of God’s statement:  “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”  Verse 19.

This statement is later repeated by Paul in his letter to the Romans where he comments on it.  “For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  Romans 9:15-16.

This is Who God is.  This is the name of the LORD Which He proclaims.  This is how God describes Himself.  “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you;  and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”

But, many prefer to just describe God as a God of love, falsely teaching that God loves everybody, Christ died for everybody, and that man gets the credit and glory and reason to boast for distinguishing himself worthy of salvation by contributing his own works or at least his own alleged free-will choice of Christ.

But, what does Scripture state?

“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

“So then it (our salvation) does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  Romans 9:16.

God gets all the credit and all the glory for our salvation.

While we wait, there is hope!

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”  Romans 8:13-14.

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba!  Father!”  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”  Romans 8:15-17.

Today’s devotion comes from Galatians 1:18-24.

“Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas (Peter), and stayed with him fifteen days.  But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.  (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.)  Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.  I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ;  but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.”  And they were glorifying God because of me.”  Galatians 1:18-24.

—————–

At first, if we isolate and only meditate on the last verse, then it may sound like Paul was prideful when he said:  “And they were glorifying God because of me.”

But, after some good thought considering the context of that verse, we recognize Paul’s humility and that it was amazing that “He (Paul) who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.”

When others recognize that our good works had to be done by God working in us, God giving us the will to do those works and God working in us for His good pleasure, then they will glorify God.

“And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”  Mark 2:12.

“For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;”  2 Corinthians 4:5-7.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

Other doctrine likes to draw attention to man’s wisdom and man’s will, and worse yet, often the preacher likes to draw attention to his own wisdom and his own will.

But, Reformed Doctrine likes to draw attention to God giving us the will to do His will and God working in us for His good pleasure.  

“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”  John 3:21.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16.

Today’s devotion comes from Galatians 1:13-17.

“For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;  and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.  But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me;  but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.”  Galatians 1:13-17.

——————

For those who most highly esteem their will, they should consider how Paul used his will to “persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it”.

For those who most highly esteem their education, they should consider Paul “was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.”  And yet, Paul used his education, position, and zeal to “persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it”.

For those who most highly esteem collaboration (working with others), they should consider that Paul “did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me”.

In summary, for those who most highly esteem man and what man does, they should consider that Paul gave all credit for his work to God.  

“But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.”  Verses 15-17.

“But the Lord said to him (Ananias), “Go, for he (Paul) is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;”  Acts 9:15.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain;  but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”  1 Corinthians 15:10.

“All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.”  Acts 15:12.

But, there is hope for us too!

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6.

Today’s devotion comes from Galatians 1:10-12.

“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?  Or am I striving to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”  Galatians 1:10-12.

——————–

Yesterday, we meditated on the gospel of man compared to the gospel of God, so to speak.

Man prefers the gospel to be that God loves everyone, Christ died for everyone, and everyone has equal opportunity and power to be saved by their own free-will choice.  This is a gospel of man’s choice.

But, the true one and only gospel is that God chooses the people that He wants to save, and He provides all that is necessary for the salvation for His chosen ones.  This is the gospel of God’s choice.

This is also the only good news that God chose “out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will … from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of Salvation.  …”  The elect were “… by nature neither better nor more deserving than the others, but with them involved in one common misery  …”  Canons of Dordt, Article 7 of the section titled FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of Divine Predestination.

“For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  Romans 9:15-16.

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;  but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.”  1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

In today’s Scripture, Paul recognizes that the gospel that he is preaching is not favored by man.  “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?  Or am I striving to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”  Verse 10.

Likewise, today, we see most churches, including the biggest churches, preach a gospel of man’s choice.  They are “seeker-sensitive”, rather than “God-sensitive”.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;  but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”  2 Timothy 4:3.

But, as Reformed Doctrine preachers and teachers, we are not called by God to have the biggest churches;  we are called by God to faithfully preach the gospel of God’s choice.  “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”  2 Timothy 4:4.

“For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”  Verses 11-12.

“Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.”  Matthew 13:11.

Older Posts »

Categories