Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | August 9, 2020

“You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?”

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.


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