You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Doctrine of Justification by Faith’ tag.

Trinity Sunday is on June 12, 2022.

The readings for Year C — and other resources — can be found here.

The exegesis for the Gospel reading, John 16:12-15, can be found here.

The Epistle is as follows (emphases mine):

Romans 5:1-5

5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

5:2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

5:3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,

5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

5:5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

In Romans 4, Paul discussed Abraham’s unswerving faith in believing everything that God promised him. He also obeyed, doing everything that God asked him to do. As such, God imputed righteousness to Abraham.

Two years ago, I wrote about Romans 4:6-12. The second half of Romans 4:9 reads:

For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.

Matthew Henry’s commentary introduces Romans 5 as follows:

The apostle, having made good his point, and fully proved justification by faith, in this chapter proceeds in the explication, illustration, and application of that truth. I. He shows the fruits of justification, Romans 5:1-5

The precious benefits and privileges which flow from justification are such as should quicken us all to give diligence to make it sure to ourselves that we are justified, and then to take the comfort it renders to us, and to do the duty it calls for from us. The fruits of this tree of life are exceedingly precious.

Paul begins by saying that, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (verse 1).

Let us look at the word ‘peace’ in the divine meaning of the word.

Twice in the past few weeks — on Pentecost Sunday and earlier on the Sixth Sunday of Easter — we have had two readings featuring John 14:27:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Through His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus reconciled us to the Father, thereby bringing us divine, everlasting peace.

Henry says that we have this peace because Jesus has redeemed our sins:

We have peace with God,Romans 5:1; Romans 5:1. It is sin that breeds the quarrel between us and God, creates not only a strangeness, but an enmity; the holy righteous God cannot in honour be at peace with a sinner while he continues under the guilt of sin. Justification takes away the guilt, and so makes way for peace. And such are the benignity and good-will of God to man that, immediately upon the removing of that obstacle, the peace is made. By faith we lay hold of God’s arm and of his strength, and so are at peace, Isaiah 27:4; Isaiah 27:5. There is more in this peace than barely a cessation of enmity, there is friendship and loving-kindness, for God is either the worst enemy or the best friend. Abraham, being justified by faith, was called the friend of God (James 2:23), which was his honour, but not his peculiar honour: Christ has called his disciples friends, John 15:13-15. And surely a man needs no more to make him happy than to have God his friend! But this is through our Lord Jesus Christ–through him as the great peace-maker, the Mediator between God and man, that blessed Day’s-man that has laid his hand upon us both.

John MacArthur explains the strength of God’s anger with unbelievers:

God is at war with men whether they’re conscious of their own animosity toward Him or not. In fact, the background of this concept of peace is Romans l and 2. And that tells us about the wrath of God, doesn’t it? Romans l:l8: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” You see, it’s God who’s at war with the ungodly and the unrighteous, and those who do not know Christ. In fact, God even says if you don’t embrace Jesus Christ you are anathema, you are cursed.

This is why Jesus issued the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20):

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Luke wrote another form of the Great Commission (Luke 24:47), which was read on Ascension Day, ten days before Pentecost:

repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Paul says that through Jesus Christ we have obtained access to this divine grace in which we abide, and we boast — or rejoice — in our hope of sharing the glory of God (verse 2).

Jesus wants others to be brought to faith as well so that they, too, repent, realise that their sins are forgiven and come to know this same divine grace and hope of life eternal.

MacArthur elaborates further:

God is not on the side of sinners. God is not on the side of Christ rejecters. He is their enemy and He seeks their destruction

God was appeased, as it were, for all of His vengeance and all of His anger and all of His wrath, found its full fury on Christ on the cross, did it not? And we have peace with God. Boy, that is good to know. That’s my new status and it flows out of the reconciliation accomplished by the work of Jesus Christ. You see, in Christ our sin was penalized, as it were. In Christ there was the full payment and God was propitiated, God was satisfied. The price was paid. And that’s why it says in Colossians I, “Having made peace through the blood of His cross”

Now, so we introduce into the concept of justification the concept of reconciliation. And may I say for you who are thinking theology with me, justification and reconciliation are distinguishable as terms, but they are inseparable as reality because justification embraces reconciliation. That’s the message of chapter 5. Justification embraces sanctification, that’s the message of chapter 6 and chapter 7. Justification embraces glorification, that’s the message of chapter 8.

So that justification, although it can be distinguished in terms of just the words from these other things, is utterly inseparable from them in reality. And so when you embrace Jesus Christ by faith and are justified, inherent in that justification is not only glorification to come, sanctification immediately to begin its process, but reconciliation to God

And in II Corinthians 5 it says He not only reconciled us to God but He gave us the ministry of reconciliation and that is to go out and preach the gospel to others who need to be reconciled.

MacArthur then discusses the security we have in our justification and our salvation.

When I was a Catholic, we were told that certain religious observances — e.g. going to Confession, receiving Communion — put us in a state of grace but that, once we sinned, we fell out of that state of grace until the next time.

However, the New Testament tells us that is not true.

MacArthur explains that Jesus keeps us in that state of grace, even when we sin, as all of us do:

Now listen to this, very important. He not only reconciled us to God initially, but He maintains that reconciliation. And that is His high priestly work. You understand that? First John l says: “He keeps on cleansing us from all (What?) sin.” You see, the continual cleansing, the continual mediation, the continual washing of our sin provides for us the maintaining of that reconciliation. Do you see? So you have two tremendous truths that cannot really be perceived. On the one hand we are at peace with God forever because every sin we will ever commit was already borne by Christ. And so there is nothing to violate our reconciliation, for the sin for which we should be cast out was paid for and covered. And even in the daily walking through the world as we sin the Lord keeps on cleansing and keeps on cleansing so then we are maintained in reconciliation, not only by the past act of Christ on the cross, but by the present mediation of Christ at the right hand of God. His high priestly ministry says He ever lives to make what? Intercession for us. Isn’t that great? I’m at peace with God.

For how long? For as long as Jesus Christ lives. And how long does He live? Forever. He intercedes for us. When a person embraces Christ by faith the spotless Son of God makes that person one with God and he’s at peace.

Therefore, we rejoice — boast — of that wonderful state of being.

Both commentators put emphasis on the word ‘access’ in verse 2.

Henry says:

1. The saints’ happy state. It is a state of grace, God’s loving-kindness to us and our conformity to God; he that hath God’s love and God’s likeness is in a state of grace … Prosagogen eschekamenWe have had access. He speaks of those that have been already brought out of a state of nature into a state of grace … 2. Their happy standing in this state: wherein we stand. Not only wherein we are, but wherein we stand, a posture that denotes our discharge from guilt; we stand in the judgment (Psalms 1:5), not cast, as convicted criminals, but our dignity and honour secured, not thrown to the ground, as abjects. The phrase denotes also our progress; while we stand, we are going. We must not lie down, as if we had already attained, but stand as those that are pressing forward, stand as servants attending on Christ our master. The phrase denotes, further, our perseverance: we stand firmly and safely, upheld by the power of God; stand as soldiers stand, that keep their ground, not borne down by the power of the enemy. It denotes not only our admission to, but our confirmation in, the favour of God.

MacArthur says:

Circle that word in your Bible. “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” Stop right there. The first link that secures us eternally to the Savior is peace with God. The second one is standing in grace, standing in grace. We aren’t moving in and out of grace. We’re what? Standing in it. We’re not coming and going through it. We’re standing in it, standing in grace and the… My feeble brain can’t touch the boundaries of this truth. It is so vast and so profound and every word is powerful. Start with “by whom.” By whom? Jesus Christ, everything is because of Him.

The key thought in the whole text is the mediation of Jesus Christ, through His marvelous mediation. By His death He brings us to God and to peace. And notice this, and it says:  “By whom also we have access by faith,” again. Now let me just stop on this word “access.”

That’s a monumental word. It’s a staggering word. It is a shocking word. It is an infinitely incomprehensible word. It is a word that is beyond the purview of a Jew to even conceive that anybody on earth could have access to God. Why?  Because everything a Jew had ever known all his life was that God is the utterly holy and unapproachable one. Didn’t he know that?  Didn’t he believe that? Throughout all their history that’s all they knew. And by the way, the word “access” here, this word is used three times. It is used here and it is used in Ephesians 2:18 and 3:12 and it always speaks of access to God. He’s given us access to God. And a Jew just never knew that.

Even the ancient Jewish priests could go into the Holy of Holies only on the Day of Atonement and only for a few seconds, because God told the Jews that those who approached Him would be struck dead. MacArthur’s sermon has all the relevant verses. And, yes, people did die.

However, with the death of Christ on the cross, that evening, the veil to the Holy of Holies at the temple in Jerusalem was rent asunder (Matthew 27:51).

Jesus, through His obedience to the Father, tore the veil, so that we may now approach His Father in confidence as His sons and daughters.

Now let’s look at ‘boasting’, or ‘rejoicing’ in some translations.

MacArthur tells us:

The third link, verse 2 again, ”We have access by faith into the grace in which we stand, and we rejoice,” or we exult, or actually we boast, we make our boast, “in hope of the glory of God.” The third link in our security is hope of glory.

We are secure because we have peace with God. We are secure because we stand in grace. And we are secure because we have been given the hope of glory. In other words, to put it another way, God has promised us future glory, right? He promised. Does God keep His promises? He is the God who cannot lie. And we will enter into that glory in the future

Now watch this, so He isn’t predestining the initiation, He is predestining the completion. Do you understand that? We are predestined not to start, but we are predestined to what? To finish. We are not predestined to be incomplete but predestined to be complete. And so, in verse 30: “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called.

And whom He called, them He also justified. And whom He justified them He also (What?) glorified.” There’s no loss, because if you’re predestined to begin, you’re predestined to end. If you’re predestined to start, you’re predestined to finish. If you’re predestined to be in Christ, you’re predestined to be like Christ. Isn’t that a marvelous truth? You see, that’s the securing reality of the hope of the believer. And the doctrine of security is based on the hope of glory.

Because we have that hope in the promise of glory in the future, we are able to boast — rejoice, exult — in our present sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance (verse 3), one of Paul’s favourite words, which would have resonated with his audience because of the ancient endurance races, some of which we see in the Olympics.

In other words, for the believer, earthly trials, as physically or psychologically painful as they are, will not be everlasting. We will be with God one day.

Henry says that our sufferings are refinements, as tests are on precious metals to purify them:

the patient sufferers have the greatest experience of the divine consolations, which abound as afflictions abound. It works an experience of ourselves. It is by tribulation that we make an experiment of our own sincerity, and therefore such tribulations are called trials. It works, dokimenan approbation, as he is approved that has passed the test. Thus Job’s tribulation wrought patience, and that patience produced an approbation, that still he holds fast his integrity, Job 2:3.

Paul goes on to say that endurance produces character, and character produces hope (verse 4).

Henry continues with the analogy of purifying precious metals:

He who, being thus tried, comes forth as gold, will thereby be encouraged to hope. This experiment, or approbation, is not so much the ground, as the evidence, of our hope, and a special friend to it.

A secular version of this is: whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It builds character.

MacArthur explains:

It would be much like we use the term sterling, sterling silver, or when we say about someone’s character, they’re a sterling character. We mean there’s no flaws, there’s no impurities. You see, the pressure takes all that out of us. Why? Because we learn to trust God in the trials, we learn to trust God in the stress, we learn to trust God in the pain. And tribulation is not a problem for us. For one thing it’s an honor to suffer for Christ, isn’t it? For another thing it is a joy to learn to experience His sustaining power in the middle of suffering. It increases our faith. It purges us. It sanctifies us. It washes us. It strengthens us. It’s like spiritual weight lifting. It builds our muscles. It raises our level of holiness. And so, we look at tribulation and we rejoice in that also. We’re not just saying, hey, pie in the sky, by and by, folks, we’re just hanging on for dear life till we can get to the glory land. We’re not moaning and groaning here with all of the struggle and hoping for that heaven; we’re even rejoicing right here because the process of trouble is building proven character, purging out the flaws, purging out the dross.

James talks about this, doesn’t he? “And blessed is a man that endures testing, for when he is tried he’ll receive a crown.”

It’s part of the purifying. Now listen, that’s James 1:12, the reason we enjoy the suffering, the reason we’re patiently enduring it, is because it’s building proven character and sterling character, and more flawless character. And the stronger we grow spiritually, the richer our hope becomes, the greater our rejoicing. Why? Because the greater the reward that awaits us there, the greater the joy to receive it and cast it at the feet of Jesus Christ. Great truth.

Back to the hope we have in God’s promises. Paul says that this hope does not disappoint us, because the Holy Spirit, which the Father gave us, pours His — the Father’s — love into our hearts (verse 5).

Instead of ‘disappoint’ some translations use ‘ashamed’, as in not being ashamed of this hope of divine promise.

Henry says:

Sense of God’s love to us will make us not ashamed, either of our hope in him or our sufferings for him.

MacArthur concludes:

And here’s the wrap-up on hope. “Hope makes not (What?) ashamed.” What it really means is hope is never disappointed. You don’t have to be ashamed of God. And you say, ah, I put all my faith in that God, I put all my faith in that Jesus Christ and He deceived me, He never came through, and I lost everything and what a deceiver, I’m ashamed that I ever mentioned that name. No, you’ll never come to that point. Hope is not going to be ashamed, not when it’s put in Jesus Christ. Hope is never disappointed. It will never be ashamed. It will never be disappointed. Why? Because it will receive the promised anticipated glory; that’s what it’s saying.

Because we are at peace with God through Christ’s death on the cross, because we stand in grace, we have a promised future glory. And I don’t blush to say that’s my hope. I’m not ashamed to say to anybody on the face of the earth, I’m going to be in glory with Jesus Christ some day, radiating the eternal glory of God throughout the eternal Jerusalem. That’s my destiny. That’s where I’m going, and I’m not going to be ashamed, because hope in God, hope in the Lord Jesus Christ is never disappointing.

May everyone reading this have a blessed Trinity Sunday.

Bible penngrovechurchofchristorgThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Galatians 5:2-6

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified[a] by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

—————————————————————————————–

Last week’s post concluded Paul’s allegory comparing Abraham’s Sarah to freedom and Hagar to slavery. It was his way of convincing the Galatians that the Judaizers promoting circumcision and Mosaic law were exhorting them to become slaves to the law, something which can only convict and condemn to hell. It can never save.

Galatians 5:1 is in the Lectionary (emphases mine below):

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

That is one of Paul’s several verses encouraging converts to ‘stand firm’. He also used the word ‘endurance’ several times in his letters, conveying the idea that the Christian journey is beset with temptation from outsiders like the Judaizers, from the world, from Satan, from persecution, among other things.

John MacArthur says:

Now verse 1 begins with a very strong statement: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free;” – the implication is He set us free to stay free, He set us free to remain free – “therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” “You just got out of one slavery as a Gentile, you got out of the slavery to sin and the law and death and Satan; don’t go back again to a yoke of slavery. Keep standing firm in your freedom.”

Gentiles going back to Mosaic law they never even knew about, because they needed to work some part of their salvation on their own? In swinging back to the externals of the law of Moses they would be nullifying the work of God. “Therefore keep standing firm. Do not be entangled, enechō, or oppressed by a yoke of slavery. Don’t go back.”

Galatians 5 is a hard-hitting chapter, one of Paul’s strongest.

Paul tells the Galatians that if they submit to circumcision, then Christ is of no advantage to them (verse 2).

Note that he says ‘I, Paul’.

Then he says ‘I testify again’ that anyone who accepts circumcision is obliged to follow the whole of Mosaic law (verse 3).

He is referring to himself in that way to say that, he, born a Jew, raised as a Pharisee, knows of what he speaks.

MacArthur explains these two verses. In his translation, the word ‘look’ is ‘behold’, always a call to attention:

The false doctrine said you have to be circumcised or you can’t be saved. It’s a small thing; just acknowledge a minor surgical operation. This will open the door to the kingdom of God for you. And then follow the Mosaic prescriptions. Faith is not enough. Mosaic ritual, circumcision has righteous merit.

So Paul says this: “If you do this, you who are contemplating it, if you do this, here are the results. Number one,” – verse 2“Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.” That is a stunning statement. That’s why it says, “Behold,” because it’s shocking. “Behold” is an exclamation.

“I, Paul, I an apostle, and more than that a circumcised Jew, proud of my heritage, proud of my Judaism, living my entire life under the Mosaic restrictions. I, Paul, this Jewish patriot, I’m telling you, if you receive circumcision, Christ is of no benefit to you.”

This is the dilemma: it’s Christ or works, it’s all Christ or no Christ, it’s all faith or no salvation. “If you get yourselves circumcised” – and this indicates that they hadn’t yet gone this far – “if you do this, if you’ve come to the brink of salvation by faith and you turn and go the way of law, Christ is of no benefit. You’ve canceled Christ.” This is a severe danger. This is a shocking statement

Second effect, verse 3: “And I testify again,” – me, the circumcised lifelong Pharisee until my conversion, I lived in all of this – “I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, if you do that you have placed yourself under obligation to keep the whole law. I testify again, marturomai, “I affirm.” Literally could be translated, “I protest further, every one of you who lets himself be circumcised, you have just placed yourself under the law. If you’re going to be saved by law, then you’re responsible to keep all of it.”

Matthew Henry points out:

He was so far from being a preacher of circumcision (as some might report him to be) that he looked upon it as a matter of the greatest consequence that they did not submit to it.

Yet, faith plus works is a common belief in churches, even those where the official denominational doctrine forbids such a belief or action.

MacArthur says:

There is no hybrid salvation. If you accept circumcision, thinking it necessary for your salvation, you just forfeited Christ. Romans 11:6, “If it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, or grace is no more grace.” It’s either grace or works – all of Christ or none of Christ.

You say, “But there’s so many people who profess Christ, claim Christ, acknowledge Christ, and think their works contribute to their salvation.” They have no connection to Christ. He is meaningless to them no matter what they say.

Faith and works cannot go together. This is basic to the doctrine of salvation. It is impossible to say, “I want to receive Christ, thereby acknowledging that I cannot do anything to save myself,” and then go do something that I think helps to save myself. You have to choose. If you add anything to Christ you lose Christ.

I know we like to say, “Well, you know, there’s lots of people and lots of forms of Christianity; and they go to church, and they believe in Christ, and they believe in God, and all of this. And isn’t is just a minor deal that they’re trusting in their works, their infant baptism, their adult baptism, or their adherence to rituals, and sometimes their moral conduct?” No. If you are depending on anything other than Christ, you have no benefit from Christ. If you submit to circumcision, you have canceled Christ. Christ is everything.

Paul goes further, saying that those who want to be justified by the law — Mosaic law, in this instance — have severed themselves from Christ and have fallen away from grace (verse 4).

MacArthur notes the hard-hitting bluntness of the verse:

That is just amazing. You say, “Well, can’t you believe in some in your baptism, in your works, and the things that you do, the rituals that you go to, and your morality, and also believe in Christ?” No, no. If you’re counting on any of that for your salvation you are severed from Christ. That is a violent word, a violent word. You are cut off from Him.

Henry’s commentary tells us that Jesus will not save everyone for that very reason:

Note, (1.) Though Jesus Christ is able to save to the uttermost, yet there are multitudes whom he will profit nothing. (2.) All those who seek to be justified by the law do thereby render Christ of no effect to them. By building their hopes on the works of the law, they forfeit all their hopes from him; for he will not be the Saviour of any who will not own and rely upon him as their only Saviour.

Paul then mentions that the key to spiritual freedom — freedom from the condemnation by law, which is impossible for any person to keep — is the Holy Spirit, which enables us by faith to await the hope of righteousness (verse 5), which only God can give.

Note that Paul uses the pronoun ‘we’ in that verse, meaning himself and the Galatians, who were once true believers but are now wavering.

MacArthur ties this verse in with the preceding ones and offers further analysis:

If you try to invent any hybrid gospel, Christ profits you nothing, you’re a debtor to the whole law, you’re severed from Christ, you’re fallen from grace. And a final, verse 5, you’re excluded from righteousness. The very thing you seek will never be yours.

Verse 5, notice the change in pronouns: “For we, we.” Now he’s speaking to believers, including himself. “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.” We have to wait for the hope of righteousness, because it’s a gift from God, we, literally as to ourselves. It is through the Spirit, by faith, that we eagerly await the hoped for righteousness. We’re not trying to earn it, we’re waiting for it. And in our sanctification the Lord gives it to us as a grace gift. And one day in our glorification He’ll give it to us perfectly.

“We through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting.” I love the fact that he used the verb “waiting.” This is something God has to do for us and in us, and is doing it by His Holy Spirit. If you follow the path of any works, you have lost the very thing you hoped for: righteousness. It comes only by waiting, in faith, on the work of the Holy Spirit.

Paul concludes this section by saying that circumcision or the lack of it has nothing to do with salvation; only faith working through love counts (verse 6).

What a beautiful verse that is.

Henry says:

Note, 1. No external privileges nor profession will avail to our acceptance with God, without a sincere faith in our Lord Jesus. 2. Faith, where it is true, is a working grace: it works by love, love to God and love to our brethren; and faith, thus working by love, is all in all in our Christianity.

MacArthur describes the connection between faith and salvation:

The whole law is fulfilled by faith and love, believing God, loving God. It’s all gone internal; it’s all gone inside. It’s faith working through love. Our hearts are literally drawn to God in trust; that’s what faith is. We live trusting God, and we live loving God, and as a result, loving those around us as well.

MacArthur illustrates how sanctification plays its part:

It’s a working faith. It’s a living faith. It’s a growing faith. It’s an increasing faith. It’s a growing love. It’s an increasing love. It’s a multiplying love, as we wait and the Spirit in grace does His work in us.

When did I really have time to do a deep dive into the Bible? When I became semi-retired. I finally had the time to explore Scripture, which has answered so many of my decades-old questions.

My prayer life has also improved enormously.

This is not to suggest waiting for retirement to start reading Scripture and praying more often, far from it. However, time does bring us a great gift in this regard. Part of the reason for writing this series is to give bite-size portions of the Bible that working people might not have time to explore for themselves.

Another insight I gained yesterday was from putting together an exploration of John 21:1-19, which showed the difference between John, Peter and the other Apostles.

It answered a question I had for many years about the makeup of church congregations. Do you notice the varied personalities and talents therein? When I was younger, I often wished there were more Petrine and Pauline personalities.

However, Matthew Henry explains that we all bring different gifts to our congregations, just as the Apostles did to the early Church. His discourse is most enlightening:

Now here we may observe, (1.) How variously God dispenses his gifts. Some excel, as Peter and John; are very eminent in gifts and graces, and are thereby distinguished from their brethren; others are but ordinary disciples, that mind their duty, and are faithful to him, but do nothing to make themselves remarkable; and yet both the one and the other, the eminent and the obscure, shall sit down together with Christ in glory; nay, and perhaps the last shall be first. Of those that do excel, some, like John, are eminently contemplative, have great gifts of knowledge, and serve the church with them; others, like Peter, are eminently active and courageous, are strong, and do exploits, and are thus very serviceable to their generation. Some are useful as the church’s eyes, others as the church’s hands, and all for the good of the body. (2.) What a great deal of difference there may be between some good people and others in the way of their honouring Christ, and yet both accepted of him. Some serve Christ more in acts of devotion, and extraordinary expressions of a religious zeal; and they do well, to the Lord they do it. Peter ought not to be censured for casting himself into the sea, but commended for his zeal and the strength of his affection; and so must those be who, in love to Christ, quit the world, with Mary, to sit at his feet. But others serve Christ more in the affairs of the world. They continue in that ship, drag the net, and bring the fish to shore, as the other disciples here; and such ought not to be censured as worldly, for they, in their place, are as truly serving Christ as the other, even in serving tables. If all the disciples had done as Peter did, what had become of their fish and their nets? And yet if Peter had done as they did we had wanted this instance of holy zeal. Christ was well pleased with both, and so must we be. (3.) That there are several ways of bringing Christ’s disciples to shore to him from off the sea of this world. Some are brought to him by a violent death, as the martyrs, who threw themselves into the sea, in their zeal for Christ; others are brought to him by a natural death, dragging the net, which is less terrible; but both meet at length on the safe and quiet shore with Christ.

I sat at church this morning, noting how many different personalities who serve our congregation faithfully every week: the introverted bachelor, the meticulous grandmother, the congenial yet discerning churchwarden — the list goes on. No doubt it is the same for other churchgoers reading this. Everyone brings his own God-given gifts to our local churches in different ways and in different capacities all for our Lord’s glory and for our spiritual edification. Our churches could not run without them.

But I digress.

Paul’s righteous anger increases next week towards the Galatians and the Judaizers.

Next time — Galatians 5:7-12, 26

Bible boy_reading_bibleThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Galatians 4:1-3

Sons and Heirs

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave,[a] though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles[b] of the world.

————————————————————————————

Last week’s post looked at the curse of being under the law rather than in freedom in and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Readers who have been following this series on Galatians will recall that a group of Judaisers went to them to say that, in order to be a good Christian, they had to obey Mosaic law, which, for the men, meant being circumcised.

Paul told the Galatians that they were ‘bewitched’ by this false teaching of faith through works when they should have continued believing in justification by faith, which requires no works. The fruits of faith are different to our own works, because, as we become regenerated through our belief in Christ, we spontaneously want to do things that glorify Him and His Father. We cannot produce fruits of faith by ourselves; we need God’s grace working through us as part of our sanctification.

Matthew Henry’s commentary summarises Galatians 4, which we will explore in depth:

In this chapter the apostle deals plainly with those who hearkened to the judaizing teachers, who cried up the law of Moses in competition with the gospel of Christ, and endeavored to bring them under the bondage of it. To convince them of their folly, and to rectify their mistake herein, in these verses he prosecutes the comparison of a child under age, which he had touched upon in the foregoing chapter, and thence shows what great advantages we have now, under the gospel, above what they had under the law.

The law means one thing only: death. No one can live up to 613 of God’s commands to Moses. Therefore, if salvation were dependent on a perfect and perpetual obedience to the law, we would all be cast into hellfire. We all sin. Because we all sin, we die. However, we will be with God if we believe in Jesus Christ. Unbelievers will endure eternal torment. That is how much God hates sin.

Yet, there are Christians who believe that we need more than faith. We need works, they say. A lot of Catholics and Evangelicals believe that very thing. There might be some confusion over works and fruits of faith.

However, MacArthur warns us against this train of thought (emphases mine):

By way of reminder, all religions, all religions without exception, all religions, as well as false forms of Christianity – and there are many of those – teach that people are delivered from judgment, saved from divine punishment by their own works: works of morality, works of religion. And that, of course, is Satan’s big lie, and it has covered the planet through all of human history since the fallWe must understand the true gospel. Here we are five hundred years after the Reformation and the church of Jesus Christ, professing church of Jesus Christ is still trying to figure out the gospel; not surprising since Satan works very hard to overthrow the truth and place error where the truth has been removed. So we’re always in every generation fighting for the true gospel. The majority of evangelical Protestants think salvation is by faith and works. That’s why there was a Reformation to undo that heresy. Here we are again needing that new Reformation.

Paul begins Galatians 4 with a discussion on sons and heirs.

He gives his audience a simple way to understand the maturity of the Church from the days of Mosaic law.

He begins by saying that the child, although an eventual heir to his father’s estate, is at that point no more than a slave, or a bondservant (verse 1).

Henry says that the child in this case was the nation of Israel under religious and ceremonial law:

He acquaints us with the state of the Old-Testament church: it was like a child under age, and it was used accordingly, being kept in a state of darkness and bondage, in comparison of the greater light and liberty which we enjoy under the gospel.

A child is under the care of guardians and managers until his father decides that he is ready to be independent (verse 2).

Henry explains that such a childhood of the Old Testament church was both a promise and a curse:

That was indeed a dispensation of grace, and yet it was comparatively a dispensation of darkness; for as the heir, in his minority, is under tutors and governors till the time appointed of his father, by whom he is educated and instructed in those things which at present he knows little of the meaning of, though afterwards they are likely to be of great use to him; so it was with the Old-Testament church–the Mosaic economy, which they were under, was what they could not fully understand the meaning of …

Paul then brings his train of thought to the Galatians’ situation while still referring to the Old Testament church, yet with a look ahead to the church of the New Covenant: they were obliged to ‘the elementary principles of the world’ — meaning the law — in a spiritual sense (verse 3).

Henry explains:

they were in bondage under the elements of the world, being tied to a great number of burdensome rites and observances, by which, as by a kind of first rudiments, they were taught and instructed, and whereby they were kept in a state of subjection, like a child under tutors and governors. The church then lay more under the character of a servant, being obliged to do every thing according to the command of God, without being fully acquainted with the reason of it; but the service under the gospel appears to be more reasonable than that was. The time appointed of the Father having come, when the church was to arrive at its full age, the darkness and bondage under which it before lay are removed, and we are under a dispensation of greater light and liberty.

The next four verses are in the Lectionary:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

MacArthur explains why God sent Jesus to us when He did:

The law was known by the Jews, and after the Babylonian captivity when they came back into the land they never again worshiped an idol. Idolatry had been literally taken from them in their captivity. So religiously, the Babylonian captivity had resulted in Israel’s final turning from idols and focusing on the one true God. That cleared the way, in some sense, for the coming of Christ.

Also, the Canon of the Old Testament had long been completed, and they had the Law and the Prophets and the Holy Writings. So necessary to understand Christ, that’s why He said, “If you knew the Scriptures you’d know who I am.”

Culturally Alexander the Great had made it a Greek world, which meant there was a common language stretching across all those multiple ethnic groups in the Mediterranean area. They all knew a common language, Greek, which then allowed for the New Testament books to be written in a language that everybody could read. And then politically the pax Romana, the sweeping power of the Roman Empire had built roads everywhere so that the gospel could then be taken to the world. We read about that in the book of Acts. So from even the standpoint of just looking at what was going on in the world, it was a great time.

More importantly than that, it was God’s perfect time. He sent forth His Son. It doesn’t say He created His Son, it says He sent Him forth. He already existed. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” But John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh.” The eternal Son became man. God sent forth His Son. He is God. He is the exact representation of God. He is God in human flesh.

MacArthur gives us two illustrations of the impact that the Book of Galatians, particularly Galatians 4, had on Martin Luther and John Wesley.

Luther’s reading of Galatians gave him further insight into the doctrine of justification by faith:

Luther was reading a couple of years after he posted his theses on the door at the church at Wittenberg. He was reading Galatians, and it was then reading Galatians and also Romans when he was converted a couple of years after he had posted his thesis of protest. He knew the religious system was wrong, but he was not yet converted until the power of the book of Romans and Galatians swept over his soul in the hands of the Holy Spirit. We have to go back and be sure we understand the gospel, and so the book of Galatians is a book for all believers in all places and all times in the history of the church to make sure we’re clinging to the truth and proclaiming the truth alone which saves.

Wesley later renounced the Holy Club he had created at Oxford University. The Holy Club revolved around a lot of good works, rather than faith alone:

John Wesley was the initiator of a group of people in England called the Holy Club. That’s a pretty bold name to take, a sort of self-declaration. In his post-graduate Oxford days, he was part of the Holy Club. John Wesley was the son of a preacher. He was very religious in his personal life and practice. He was moral externally in his conduct, and he was full of external good works.

He and his friends, he says, visited the prisons and the prisoners. They went to the workhouses where the poor were; they tried to bring relief to the poor. He took pity on slum children, provided food for them, clothing for them, and even funded education for the horrendous poverty that was exhibited in the slum children, many of whom were orphans.

He and his friends observed Sabbath on Saturday, and they kept the Lord’s Day on Sunday. So both Saturday and Sunday they fastidiously adhered to religious preoccupations. They gave generously alms to the poor and to the church. They read the Bible, they fasted, they said prayers; thus they were the Holy Club.

But John Wesley said that he and his companions were bound in the chains of their own self-righteous religion and not fully trusting Christ. What a statement. Bound in the chains of their own self-righteous religion and not fully trusting Christ. What were they trusting? They were trusting in their works for their salvation.

A few years later, John Wesley in his own words, quote: “Came to trust in Christ, in Christ only for salvation.” End quote. And then it was that he experienced for the first time in his life what he says was the assurance that his sins had been forgiven.

At that point, the point of his conversion, he looked back to his days in the Holy Club and he wrote this: “I had then the faith of a slave and not of a son.” What did he mean by that? “I had the faith of a slave, because I was in bondage to the law. I did not have the experience of the freedom of being a son.” He was referring to Galatians 4 …

John Wesley said, “We were slaves and not sons”

What does that mean? What does it mean when he says, “I was a slave”? He means he was a slave to the law. And the law is a brutal and cruel taskmaster, because no matter how you endeavor to do good works, you can’t do enough, and you can’t avoid sin. And so the law becomes, essentially, your executioner. You violate the law, and the sentence of death is passed on you.

In closing, MacArthur summarises Paul’s message to the Galatians — and to us:

This is the wondrous heart of salvation. It’s not something you earn, it is a gift you receive by believing. We are justified by faith. Justified means that God declares the sinner righteous in His eyes because the sinners believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. God considers such a believing sinner to be the recipient of His own righteousness. This is a remarkable reality that God justifies the ungodly who believe.

How can God do that? He can do that because Christ paid the penalty for our sins. Go back to chapter 3, be reminded, verse 10: “As many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who doesn’t abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.’” If you’d ever broken the law of God you’re cursed …

If you live apart from the gospel of Christ, if you live apart from faith in Jesus Christ, I don’t care how religious you are, how moral you are, you are in bondage. You are under the law, you are under sin, you are under a curse, and you’re captive to the elemental things of this world that have no power to restrain or subdue your evil flesh, and can do nothing but deliver you to eternal judgment. You are a slave. There is promise there, but you can’t enter into it until you become a son, a fully mature son; and that happens only when you come in faith to Jesus Christ.

And then the generosity of God is staggering. You literally sit with Christ on His throne in glory, Scripture says, and become a joint heir with Him of all that God possesses. Staggering grace to sinners.

From three verses, who could imagine there is so much upon which to reflect?

I wish everyone reading this a blessed week ahead.

Next time — Galatians 4:8-11

Bible kevinroosecomThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Galatians 3:10-14

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”[a] 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit[b] through faith.

Galatians 3:22

22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

———————————————————————————

Last week’s post discussed Paul’s brief explanation on Abraham’s justification by faith and the promise that God made to him: ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed’.

Paul told the Galatians they were ‘bewitched’ for believing the interloping Judaizers who told them that faith was not enough for salvation; it must be combined with works, e.g. circumcision.

Unfortunately, the doctrine of justification — righteousness — by faith has often been ignored through the centuries to the present day. Yet, it is central to the Gospel and was present from the very beginning in the Old Testament, as we saw with Abraham’s unfailing belief in God, faith which God imputed to him as righteousness.

John MacArthur explains that belief in justification by faith is essential, which was what drove Paul to bring the Galatians back to the truth instead of the curse of obeying a false gospel (emphases mine):

Back in chapter 1, Paul said, “That’s a false gospel, and anybody who believes and preaches that false gospel is cursed.” So the curse is even more profound: universally cursed, because we can’t keep the law of God; doubly cursed, because we believe that our works can gain us salvation; and the triple curse is, we propagate that as a true form of religion, and anybody who does that, Galatians 1, is accursed.

Let me make it even more practical. Anyone who believes that works are necessary for salvation has bought into a cursed gospel. Anyone who preaches that is preaching a cursed gospel. And the people who are believing it and preaching it are themselves cursed: cursed by their sin, doubly cursed by their works system, triply cursed by preaching it

The Galatians had become bewitched, and they were true believers; but they were buying into the fact that works were necessary. Even though they hadn’t believed that, they had believed correctly and been saved, they were allowing for an accursed heresy. So Paul is colliding with them head-on in chapters 3 and 4 of Galatians.

MacArthur preached the sermons cited here today in 2017.

He talked about a Pew survey done that year:

Let me shock you. This week a new survey by the Pew survey people came out; pretty timely. A question was asked to thousands of people across America who are evangelical Protestants, and the question is this: “Is salvation by faith alone, or is it by faith and good deeds?” This is Protestants, not Catholics. They surveyed Catholics. Eighty-two percent of Roman Catholics said salvation is by faith and good deeds, eighty-two percent of Catholics. Where were the other eighteen percent? They’re just Catholics who don’t know what Catholics believe, nominal Catholics. But Catholics get it. They know what they’re supposed to believe, and they believe that heresy.

Protestants, evangelical Protestants were asked, “Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus good deeds?” Fifty-two percent of evangelical Protestants said faith plus good deeds. I told you when we started chapter 3 about being bewitched, and I told you that most churches and most people sitting in evangelical churches across this country, if not the world, are bewitched. They are bewitched by this lie of works being added to salvation.

In today’s verses, Paul proves the doctrine of justification by faith by looking at the law of the Old Testament.

Mosaic law has 613 commandments. Granted, some apply only to men (e.g. circumcision) and some only to women (e.g. ritual cleansing after menstruation), but that still leaves hundreds of laws for a Jew to obey perfectly. Today, the Orthodox Jews try to follow as many as possible. Conservative Jews are a bit more lenient. Many Reform Jews believe that there is no need to follow them anymore.

However, in Paul’s era, Jews still attempted to follow them all.

Paul quotes Deuteronomy and says that those relying on works of the law over faith are cursed because the person who fails to obey all of those commandments is cursed (verse 10).

This is what Deuteronomy 27:26 says:

26 “‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

Matthew Henry’s commentary says that everyone would fail. We would all be convicted by the law and, therefore, cursed:

If we put ourselves upon trial in that court, and stand to the sentence of it, we are certainly cast, and lost, and undone; for as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse, as many as depend upon the merit of their own works as their righteousness, as plead not guilty, and insist upon their own justification, the cause will certainly go against them; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them, Galatians 3:10; Deuteronomy 27:26.

Paul says that no one is justified before God by the law, because, citing Habakkuk, the righteous live by faith (verse 11).

This is what Habakkuk 2:4 says:

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,
    but the righteous shall live by his faith.[a]

Paul then states that the law has nothing to do with faith, rather the one who obeys those 613 commandments shall live, citing Leviticus (verse 12).

This is Leviticus 18:5:

You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.

That means the person obeying all of Mosaic law would not die.

However, who can obey all of those laws? Even in our Lord’s day, some of those commandments were seen to be more important than others.

Matthew Henry says that obeying all of the law would require a continual, perpetual effort which is impossible, given our sinful nature as human beings:

The man that doeth them shall live in them: and for every failure herein the law denounces a curse. Unless our obedience be universal, continuing in all things that are written in the book of the law, and unless it be perpetual too (if in any instance at any time we fail and come short), we fall under the curse of the law. The curse is wrath revealed, and ruin threatened: it is a separation unto all evil, and this is in full force, power, and virtue, against all sinners, and therefore against all men; for all have sinned and become guilty before God: and if, as transgressors of the law, we are under the curse of it, it must be a vain thing to look for justification by it.

Indeed, it is pure folly to want to be justified by the law, because God would condemn every one of us for eternity.

MacArthur summarises the meaning of those three verses:

Verses 10-12: “Cursed is everyone who doesn’t abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” That’s the curse on all men, the entire human race. And the reality is so bad that it is really without human remedy. There is nothing that man can do. No matter how noble his moral efforts, no matter how extensive his religious efforts, no matter how many rituals, ceremonies, sacraments he goes through, there is nothing a man can do to come out from under that curse.

In fact, his condition is delineated in Romans 3 – you’ll remember these verses – starting in verse 10: “As it is written” – this all comes from the Old Testament – ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving,’ ‘the poison of asps’ – or ‘snakes’ – ‘is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There’s no fear of God before their eyes.’” So every mouth is closed and the whole world made accountable to God. That is the true human condition.

Paul reminds the Galatians of the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the Cross. Paul says that He redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because anyone who hangs from a tree is cursed (verse 13).

That curse comes from Deuteronomy 21:23:

23 his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

That was the penalty for a blasphemer.

MacArthur says:

When somebody was basically a blasphemer, somebody was an abomination to God, when capital punishment was executed against someone like that, they would stone them to death. They didn’t crucify them, they stoned them. But after they stoned them, it was their habit to tie them to a post, that is the corpse, or to a tree as a visible sign of rejection by God, visible sign of rejection by God. It was not that a person was cursed because they were tied to a tree; it is that because they were cursed by God, they were tied to a tree.

And here, Paul is saying, “This is Jesus. In a sense, He’s the ultimate fulfillment of that picture. God cursed Him. God killed Him, tied Him to a tree.” This is the curse of God.

You want to know how severe the curse of God is? It brought all the sins of all who would ever believe on Jesus, and He took the full fury of the punishment, and He was even openly, publicly, blatantly the picture of one cursed by God. The Jews would know that. They would know that somebody tied to a tree was cursed; they knew their Scripture. Jesus was cursed by God.

MacArthur explains the seeming theological contradiction of God putting His Son — perfect in every way — under a curse for us, we wicked sinners:

Is God going to justify the wicked and condemn the righteous? That is exactly what God does. He condemns His Son, the Righteous One, and justifies us, the wicked.

How can God do that and not be Himself unrighteous? And the answer, of course, is 2 Corinthians 5:21. “He made Him who knew no sin” – Jesus – “sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” The guilty are not unpunished. The guilty are punished, but a substitute takes the punishment. A substitute takes the punishment. God only can justify the ungodly, in the language of Romans, God only can justify the wicked, in the language of Proverbs, if He punishes their sins; and He has chosen to do that in the Righteous One, Jesus Christ.

This is the glory of the gospel, and this is the second curse. Go back to verses 13-14. The first curse: the divine curse on all men. Now the second curse: the divine curse on one Man, the divine curse on one Man. The divine curse on all men, that’s the bad news; the divine curse on one Man, that’s the good news.

Verse 13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us.” “Curse of the Law” simply the curse from God for all law-breakers; and that’s the whole human race. “There’s none righteous; no, not one.”

The curse of the Law is the violation of the law of God. But God has redeemed us, bought us back from that curse through Christ who became a curse for us. That is how God justifies the ungodly, as Paul says in Romans. He became “a curse for us.” No sin goes unpunished. But in the grace of God, we’re not punished for our sins; Christ is punished in our place.

Man’s sin has to be punished; justice has to be satisfied. God requires it; it’s not whimsical. But man’s spiritual deadness, man’s spiritual inability, man’s spiritual unwillingness leaves him unable to pay the penalty for his sin without going to hell forever. So God has appointed His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to take the place of sinners and receive their punishment. And in 1 John 2:2 and 4:10 it says, “He became the propitiation for our sins; and not ours only, but the sins of the whole world.”

It simply means “satisfaction.” God’s justice has to be satisfied. And in the death of Christ, justice was satisfied, because divine justice meted out full punishment for all who would ever believe, through all of human history, on Christ. All the sins that we will ever commit were paid for. He is the propitiation, the satisfaction of divine justice.

“Propitiation” is used again in Hebrews 2:17. It’s used again in Romans 3:23-26. It’s a critical word. God’s justice must be satisfied; it must be satisfied. He can by no means clear the guilty. He cannot justify the wicked and condemn the righteous, unless the sins of the wicked are paid for in full so that divine justice is satisfied. Simply stated, 1 John 3:16 says, “Christ laid down His life for us.” “Christ laid down His life for us” …

Furthermore, Paul says that our Lord’s death on the Cross enabled the blessing that God gave Abraham to extend to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promised Spirit — or ‘the promise of the Spirit’ in some translations — through faith (verse 14).

Under the Old Covenant, the vast majority of Gentiles could not be saved because they did not know of the God of Israel and His law. Some Gentiles did convert to Judaism from paganism.

MacArthur tells us:

Christ was cursed so that punishment for sin was completely exhausted; and for all who turned to Christ, there is the blessing of Abraham. What is the blessing of Abraham? Salvation, righteousness. Righteousness was reckoned to him, imputed to him, credited to him, accounted to him by faith. That’s the blessing of Abraham.

The blessing of Abraham can come on Gentiles, come on all nations, because it’s by faith, not by being a part of the Jewish people or the nation Israel, or understanding the Mosaic litany. So salvation is by faith in order that in Christ Jesus where you place your faith, the blessing that came to Abraham could come to the whole world regardless of what they know about Moses and the law.

Secondly, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Through faith we – faith is the beginning. Justifying grace brings sanctifying power. Justifying grace through faith brings sanctifying power through the Holy Spirit. I love the fact that it ends there, “through faith, through faith.”

Finally, Paul says that, according to Scripture, all of us are convicted as prisoners because we sin, therefore, the only remedy is a promise of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (verse 22).

Henry elaborates:

the scripture hath concluded all under sin (Galatians 3:22; Galatians 3:22), or declared that all, both Jew and Gentile, are in a state of guilt, and therefore unable to attain to righteousness and justification by the works of the law. The law discovered their wounds, but could not afford them a remedy: it showed that they were guilty, because it appointed sacrifices and purifications, which were manifestly insufficient to take away sin: and therefore the great design of it was that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those that believe, that being convinced of their guilt, and the insufficiency of the law to effect a righteousness for them, they might be persuaded to believe on Christ, and so obtain the benefit of the promise.

Paul goes on to discuss sons and heirs in Galatians 4, more about which next week.

Next time — Galatians 4:1-3

Bible readingThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Galatians 3:7-9

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[a] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

——————————————————————————————–

Last week’s post discussed Paul’s taking the Galatians to task for being ‘bewitched’ by Judaizers claiming that Gentile converts to Christianity had to be circumcised.

Paul introduced Abraham in verse 6:

Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Abraham believed God’s promise to him first. The circumcision of our father in faith did not occur until 14 years later. More on this follows below.

John MacArthur sets the tone for today’s three verses:

So in verses 6 to 9, we have Paul’s positive proof that Old Testament salvation is by faith alone, positive proof that Old Testament salvation is by faith alone, and the positive proof is Abraham. They want Abraham to defend their works system. He’s going to take Abraham and defend faith alone using Abraham. He’s going to beat them at their own game by an accurate understanding of Abraham, such as we read in the fourth chapter of Romans

Paul says that anyone who believes in God — ‘those of faith’ — are the sons of Abraham (verse 7).

Matthew Henry’s commentary says that circumcision — ‘according to the flesh’ — does not enter into it:

… not according to the flesh, but according to the promise; and, consequently, that they are justified in the same way that he was. Abraham was justified by faith, and so are they.

Paul goes on to cite the promise that God made to Abraham, which is in Genesis 12:3; Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by their faith (verse 8).

Henry says (emphases mine):

Abraham was justified by faith, and so are they. To confirm this, the apostle acquaints us that the promise made to Abraham (Genesis 12:3), In thee shall all nations be blessed, had a reference hereunto, Galatians 3:8; Galatians 3:8. The scripture is said to foresee, because he that indited the scripture did foresee, that God would justify the heathen world in the way of faith; and therefore in Abraham, that is, in the seed of Abraham, which is Christ, not the Jews only, but the Gentiles also, should be blessed; not only blessed in the seed of Abraham, but blessed as Abraham was, being justified as he was.

Paul concludes that believers are blessed along with Abraham, ‘the man of faith’ (verse 9).

Henry explains:

It was through faith in the promise of God that he was blessed, and it is only in the same way that others obtain this privilege.

John MacArthur’s sermon provides an excellent explanation of why the Jews held Abraham in such esteem — and rightly so — yet were so mistaken in their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah.

First, he says that Paul clearly includes believing Gentiles as Abraham’s children in faith:

… he gives Abraham that title, “the believer,” which becomes the title for all New Testament people of faith.

Then MacArthur summarises Paul’s impression of Judaism at the time and salvation, which is individual and not collective, as in a whole nation:

Now this is so very, very important. All the Jews leaned on Abraham, and they saw Abraham as circumcised, and they saw Abraham as a law-keeper. There’s some serious problems with that, if you remember what we read in Romans 4. But let’s go back and follow the pattern of the story, back to Genesis chapter 12 where it all began. Genesis chapter 12.

God is going to call out a people for Himself, a people to whom He will give His divine revelation, a people who will embody the prophets, a people who will be His witness nation in the world. That’s their purpose. It is not simply that He designed to save the nation spiritually ...

And this is crystal clear in the second chapter of Romans, because it says there, “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, but he is a Jew who is one inwardly.” And it repeats it again in Romans 9, verses 6 through 8: “Not all Israel is Israel.”

The temporal nation of Israel was under the protection of God as a nation to be a witness for Him, but that did not grant them personal salvation. And salvation is always personal, it is always internal, and it is always spiritual. It is never national; it is never external; it is never physical. God is going to call out a people to whom He will give His revelation, who are to be His witness. He is the one true and living God, and they are to represent Him in a world of many gods, polytheistic nations.

MacArthur takes us through Abraham’s story. He was called Abram in the beginning:

So the Lord said to Abram, in chapter 12 of Genesis, verse 1, “Go forth from your country.” He lived in Ur of the Chaldees. “Go from your country, from your relatives, from your father’s house, to a land which I will show you. I’ll make you a great nation. I will bless you, make your name great, so you shall be a blessing.” I mean, that was the whole point, to bless them, so they could bless the world.

“I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. In you all the families, all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” And Abram was 75 years old when he followed the command of God and left Haran with his wife Sarah. God says, “I am going to call you, and from your loins produce a great nation that will bless the entire world.”

Over in chapter 15, very important, God is still speaking to Abram. Abram is a believer now in the true God. He is a believer in the true God. Verse 22 of chapter 14, “I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth.” He is a true believer in the true God. He has abandoned all the gods of his ancient family.

God comes to him again in chapter 15, and tells him not to be afraid. “I am a shield to you. Your reward shall be very great.” He’s been told he’s going to be the father of nations; he doesn’t even have one child.

“O Lord God,” – verse 2 – “what will You give me, I’m childless? The heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus.” That was his main servant; and if there was no son, then the inheritance could pass to the son of the most intimate servant. “I don’t have a child.” Verse 3: “You’ve given no offspring to me; one born in my house is my heir.”

“Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.’ And He took him outside and said, ‘Look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you’re able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ Then he believed in the Lord. Then he believed in the Lord.”

This is a massive, massive promise against all reality and probability. This is an old man married to an old lady; they can’t have children. And he has no offspring, and he believes that the Lord is going to give him children like the sand of the sea or the stars of heaven. “He believed in the Lord;” – here’s the key verse – “and he reckoned it to him and righteousness.” Wow. It was Abraham’s faith that caused God to credit him with divine righteousness.

Abraham serves a dual purpose, for Jews and for Gentiles:

There is salvation by faith. Abraham is the prototype of faith. He’s not the first person who believed. “By faith Enoch,” Hebrews 11. “By faith Noah,” Hebrews 11. But then it’s, “By faith Abraham,” and Abraham becomes a kind of father of faith to all succeeding generations of believers. He’s not only physically the father of Jewish people, spiritually he’s the prototype, in a sense, the father of all who believe God through human history. So God gives him a nation physically, but also through that nation comes a Messiah, and through that Messiah comes a world family by faith. That’s inherent in the promise of Genesis chapter 12.

Sarah, Abraham’s wife, thought that God would want them to use their own initiative on creating the heir that God promised them:

So Sarah makes the suggestion that he make one of the servants in the house pregnant. And she got pregnant and bore Ishmael, who fathered the Arab people. That was a pain that keeps on throughout all of human history, as the Arab-Israeli conflict goes back to Hagar and Ishmael.

Isaac, Sarah and Abraham’s son, was still years away, but God plans things in His own time and we must be patient. When Isaac arrived, so did God’s command of circumcision:

Eighty-six years old now. Ten years at least have past; there’s no child. Then the child comes, and the child is born. And Abraham is ninety-nine years old – chapter 17, verse 1. And when he’s ninety-nine years old, the Lord comes to him. And the Lord, down in verse 9, says, “You have your child; the promise is now being fulfilled. Here’s what I want you to do. You shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout your generations.

“This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; it’ll be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. Every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought for money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. A servant who’s born in your house or bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people.”

This command to circumcise came several years after Abraham was justified by faith:

Important thing to note is, at least fourteen years after Genesis 15:6, he believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness, Abraham was circumcised as an old man. Salvation didn’t come to him because of circumcision.

Mosaic law came centuries later:

Let me add another very important footnote. The law wasn’t given for hundreds of years after Abraham, so he certainly wasn’t saved by observing the law and ceremony of Moses. There was no law. There was no circumcision when Abraham was reckoned as righteous. And that is precisely Paul’s point.

God’s objective with circumcision was to keep the nation of Israel as disease-free as possible physically but also to introduce a spiritual element of cleansing:

Throughout history, Jewish women have had the lowest rate of diseases, transmittable diseases, because circumcision eliminates the possibility of things being introduced into a woman’s body by the folds of the foreskin. So God was protecting them from diseases, as He promised He will in Exodus.

But more than that, that was a symbol of the fact that they needed to be cleansed at a profoundly personal level. And that’s why the Old Testament says in Deuteronomy 10 and Jeremiah 4, “Circumcise your hearts. Cut away that part of you, which is the residence of your disease. Circumcise your hearts.”

Abraham also believed in the life to come when he obeyed God in setting Isaac up for death:

And then, an even more dramatic test of his faith comes in the twenty-second chapter of Genesis. Isaac is with Abraham. They go up the mountain, Mount Moriah, to offer a sacrifice; and God says to Abraham, “Isaac is the sacrifice. Put him on the altar and kill him.” And Abraham lifts the knife. Why would he do that? Because he believed this, Hebrews 11 says: he believed that if Isaac died, God would raise him from the dead.

Hebrews chapter 11 says that explicitly. He trusted God to such a degree, that he believed he and Sarah, as old and barren, would have a massive family that would stretch across the earth; and that if need be to fulfill that when all there was was one son Isaac, God would raise him from the dead. That’s all God wanted to show was his faith; and he pulled his knife back and provided a ram, which was a picture of the sacrifice of Christ to come.

Abraham was not fully righteous, but he believed God and obeyed His commands:

Righteousness came to Abraham from God because he believed. Was he righteous? No, he was not righteous, and demonstrably not righteous when he went in and got his servant pregnant. But God justifies the ungodly whose faith is credited as righteousness.

MacArthur gives us another Scriptural view on Abraham’s justification by faith from Psalm 32 as cited in Romans 4:

And then he quotes, Paul does, from Romans, in Romans chapter 4 from Psalm 32, that God forgives the lawless, covers the sins of the sinful … and He does it by faith. And then Paul asks the question, in Romans 4: “Was he circumcised or uncircumcised? Well, he was uncircumcised. The law: Did he obey the law?” There was no law.” I can’t tell you how foundational this is, folks. This is the biblical argument that you cannot add any works to salvation by faith alone.

MacArthur then looks at John the Baptist’s ministry. John the Baptist told the Jews they must be baptised, something that only Gentiles converting to Judaism did. The Jews replied that they did not need to be baptised because Abraham was their father:

Now the Jews thought Abraham was enough. Very early, Matthew chapter 3, John the Baptist comes preaching to the Jews, and he’s telling them basically that they’re no better than pagans, because he says, “You need to have a baptism. You need to be baptized; I’m here to baptize you.” And the only people that were baptized in their world were Gentiles who wanted to become proselytes to Judaism. So it was a proselyte baptism.

So John the Baptist is saying, “You need to be baptized,” which is saying, “You’re no better than Gentiles. You’re no better than Gentiles. You’re not ready for the coming of the Messiah,” John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah. “You’re not ready for his coming. You need to acknowledge your sinfulness, repent of your sin like a pagan, and publicly be baptized.”

In fact, John said to the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the elite religious leaders, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”

And then John the Baptist said this: “And do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father.’ For I say to you, that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; and you’re going to be cut down and thrown into the fire.” ... They were trusting in their Abrahamic ancestry.

MacArthur then explores the rebuke of Jesus to the Jews in John 8:

The most powerful dialog between Jesus and the Jews on that subject is in John 8 – you might want to turn to it. In John 8, Jesus is talking to the Jews, and He tells them they don’t know the truth, they don’t know the gospel. They don’t know the truth about God, they don’t know the truth about salvation.

But He says, in verse 32, “If you listen to Me, you’ll know the truth, and the truth will make you free, free from the search from the truth, and free from judgment and wrath. So they answered Him,” – this was their response to Jesus – ‘We are Abraham’s descendants, have never been enslaved to anyone. We don’t need to be set free, we’ve never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that You say, ‘You will become free?’ ‘Truly,’ Jesus said to them, ‘truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. You’re all slaves of sin. You’re all slaves of sin, all of you. And only when you believe the truth can you be set free.’”

Now, remember, Abraham believed God. He believed that God’s word was true, he believed God was trustworthy; and when he believed God, it was counted to him for righteousness. He believed all that God had said. Jesus is saying to these Jews, “You do not believe the truth. You don’t believe the truth. You are slaves of sin. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free for real. I know you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. If you were really Abraham’s children, you wouldn’t try to kill Me. I speak for God. Abraham believed God when God spoke. I’m speaking for God, and you want to kill Me. If you were Abraham’s children, you would believe the truth about God.”

Verse 38: “I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.” He hasn’t identified who their father is yet.

“They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham.’” And what did Abraham do to be justified? He what? He believed. “So believe when God speaks, and I am speaking for God.”

“You’re seeking” – verse 40 – “to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. Abraham believed the truth from God. You don’t; you want to kill Me.”

“And then He says,” in verse 41 – ‘You’re doing the deeds of your father.’ They said to Him, ‘We’re not born of fornication;’ – which is a slur against Him, accusing Him of being a bastard child – ‘we have one father: God.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God. I haven’t come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.

“Why do you not understand I’m saying? It’s because you can’t hear My word.’ – here it comes – ‘You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, doesn’t stand in the truth because there’s no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature. He’s a liar and the father of lies. Because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.’” That’s the issue.

Abraham believed, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. The Jewish people did not believe, and they were pronounced to be doomed to divine wrath. Their attitude was that righteousness was some debt God owed them because they were the children of Abraham. But Abraham’s salvation was graciously granted to him by faith, and not by works, and not by circumcision, and not by keeping the law. “And you are not the sons of Abraham.”

In John 8:56, later in the eighth chapter, our Lord said, “Abraham your father.” Really important statement. “Abraham your father was extremely glad to see My day, and when he saw it he rejoiced.” Abraham didn’t know who Christ would be specifically, but he knew God was going to provide a sacrifice. God was going to provide an acceptable offering. He knew God was going to fulfill His promise of an atonement for sin, which would satisfy the justice of God, and by which God could reckon righteousness to a believer.

Abraham died in faith, never saw the promise. All those in Hebrews 11 died in faith, never saw the promise; but they all believed the promise was to come. “Abraham saw My day and rejoiced.”

MacArthur concludes, returning to Galatians 3:9:

So, as Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness, so through Abraham will come the line of the Messiah. Through the Messiah will come the sacrifice to provide that salvation to all who believe. And then the salvation will stretch to the world; all the nations will be blessed. And Abraham will be the father, in a prototypical sense, of all who believe.

Verse 9 sums it up: “So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham,” – I love this – “the believer, the believer.” That becomes the New Testament word to identify Christians: the believer. It’s always faith, faith alone. God asks nothing more of us. Faith is not a righteous work, faith is an empty hand receiving righteousness.

Paul continues this theme in the verses that follow. More to come next week.

Next time — Galatians 3:10-14

Bible and crossThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Galatians 3:1-6

By Faith, or by Works of the Law?

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh? Did you suffer[b] so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

————————————————————————————-

Last week’s post discussed Paul’s relating of the public rebuke he had to give to the Apostle Peter in Antioch for shunning the Gentile converts in favour of Judaizers who had infiltrated the congregation. Antioch was one of the Galatian churches.

In today’s passage, he is taking the Galatians to task for believing the highly erroneous message from these Judaizers that they need to be circumcised in order to be Christians.

John MacArthur explains (emphases mine):

What caused him to write this letter is false teachers had come into that area, and apparently gone from church to church proclaiming a false gospel. Paul is profoundly exercised over this. This is very early in his ministry, very early in his writings. He knows immediately, even though the churches are truly established, they are genuine believers, and they have had the influence of this great apostle – they are subject to false teaching. They will be assaulted, they will be attacked, and in some cases, they will fall victim to false teachers. And that is exactly what happened in Galatia.

So Paul writes this letter to deal with what’s going on in these Galatian churches. In the first two chapters, he defends his apostolic authority as the one called by Christ, taught by Christ, and sent by Christ. So he is the one they are to listen to, and not the false teachers who come from the kingdom of darkness, even though they profess to be Christians.

So the first two chapters deal with his apostolic authority. And then in chapters 3 and 4 he clarifies the truth of the gospel. That’s where we are now in chapters 3 and 4. He goes to the very careful, thoughtful defense of the true gospel of grace alone.

Now what the false teachers basically were saying was: grace was not enough, the cross is not enough, the Holy Spirit is not enough. “What God has wrought among you is not enough. You cannot enter the kingdom of God, you cannot enter heaven unless you are circumcised and adhere to the law of Moses.”

This was a convoluted, adulterated, corrupted gospel. They were adding works to grace and works to faith. Paul is so exercised about this that there is not at the beginning of this letter any commendation.

Paul calls the Galatians ‘foolish’ and asks who has ‘bewitched’ them, saying that they personally learned — from him — that Jesus was publicly crucified (verse 1).

One could easily write an essay on this verse alone, there is that much content to analyse.

Matthew Henry says of their spiritual foolishness:

He reproves them, and the reproof is very close and warm: he calls them foolish Galatians,Galatians 3:1; Galatians 3:1. Though as Christians they were Wisdom’s children, yet as corrupt Christians they were foolish children.

MacArthur says:

This is a powerful portion of Scripture. It is powerful because Paul embraces the Trinity – the Son, the Spirit, and the Father – and essentially says, “By foolishly being bewitched by a false gospel, or a false addition to the gospel, you have called into question the work of the Son and the Spirit and the Father.” In other words, “You have assaulted heaven at its heights.” This is an all-out attack on the Triune God.

The use of ‘bewitched’ is a singular one. It appears nowhere else in the New Testament.

MacArthur tells us:

This is the only place it is used. Is Paul saying that these Galatian believers were bewitched? Absolutely

There’s never a question in this letter about the spiritual condition of the Galatians; they are believers. Initially when the apostle Paul came, they received the gospel that he preached, they fully embraced it. Now they have become bewitched: true believers bewitched

Maybe you never thought about the fact that believers, true believers, can be bewitched. But every warning in the New Testament, every warning about false teachers and false doctrine is an assumption that believers can be bewitched. Every command to hold to the truth, guard the truth, rightly handle the word of truth is also based on the assumption of our susceptibility to bewitching. Yes, believers can be seduced into believing lies about the gospel.

Now the bewitching doesn’t come when someone says, “I don’t believe in God, and I don’t believe in the Bible. I don’t believe in Christ. I don’t believe in the gospel of grace. I don’t believe in the cross. I don’t believe in the resurrection.” That’s not bewitching; that’s not seductive – that’s obvious to us. The bewitching comes from those who acknowledge the gospel, accept the gospel, and then add works to the gospel

All those warnings, all those commands to faithfulness assume that we can become bewitched. And I would just go so far as to say, most churches in our society are bewitched. Most church leaders are bewitched. At the core, they may believe the true gospel, but they have allowed so many things to be added to the gospel or to corrupt the gospel that they are bewitched.

This isn’t just a problem in the pew. It is a problem in the pew, because it’s a problem in the pulpit. All too common for Christian leaders and pastors in places of great influence to become themselves bewitched about the gospel, even the gospel that saved them. The duty of the pastor is to guard the truth, is to preach the truth, is to fight for the truth, contend for the truth, and to protect his flock from the bewitching errors. We have to assume that bewitching. And it reaches high levels. You can’t even walk into a Christian bookstore and trust everything you find there. There are many bewitching things there.

There are indeed. I do not go into Christian bookstores for that very reason.

A little over a decade ago, I saw a lot of talk on Christian blogs about a book that touted living according to Leviticus. Many people commenting on it said it was wonderful and that their families felt purer for living according to Mosaic law whilst attending church regularly on Sundays.

That is a real life example of becoming bewitched by false teaching. Paul would have been appalled, yet it would have been familiar to him.

Thinking of that book and of these Judaizers, I can just imagine that they probably told the Galatians, ‘But if you just add these ceremonial laws to your life, you’ll be a much better, purer Christian’.

Wrong!

MacArthur tells us about the word ‘bewitched’ in Greek:

It’s from the Greek verb baskain. That in itself isn’t important, except that it’s the only time it’s ever used in the New Testament. Paul went for a word that isn’t used anywhere else. He never uses it anywhere else. He’s going outside of his normal vocabulary to find a word to describe this in a unique way. Never used anywhere else in the New Testament; and it’s always used in a bad sense.

What does it mean in the Greek language outside the Bible? The word meant “to charm,” “to fascinate,” but “to fascinate or charm in a misleading way.” Always has a bad connotation. It meant “to seek to do harm to someone by lies or deception or false promises.” It is even related to magic spells and sorcery, and the evil eye, and demonic power.

It’s a very, very serious word, and the Holy Spirit only used it once to describe not what’s happening to nonbelievers, but what has happened to believers. It’s as if they have been bewitched, not by sorcery, not by magic spells, but by false doctrine.

In the churches that Paul planted, false teachers came in after he left. We saw this in 1 and 2 Corinthians. The same thing also happened in Ephesus.

Satan is behind the bewitching, although he uses agents in the form of false teachers.

MacArthur says:

Now Satan only has two approaches, only two approaches. We see them in Matthew 13 in the words of our Lord. He can, first of all, snatch the gospel seed before it can go into the ground and be productive. And we see that in our Lord’s parable of the soils. Satan comes and snatches the seed away before anybody can understand it. That’s corrupting the gospel on the front end.

The second thing that Satan does is once the gospel has taken root and believers begin to grow and flourish, then Satan’s second approach is to sow tares among the wheat: false believers in a false gospel alongside true believers. And that is corrupting the gospel on the back end. He corrupts it on the front end by snatching it away, often through lack of understanding. He comes back, corrupting it on the back end by bringing into the church corrupt messages that produce corrupt tares among the wheat.

That’s what had happened in Galatia. The Word had come and gone into the soil. The seed had brought about life; that life was flourishing and growing. Satan shows up in the form of Jews from Jerusalem who come to demand that if you’re going to be saved and forgiven and into the kingdom of God and brought to heaven, you must maintain the Mosaic law and circumcision. This was sowing lies, and therefore, liars and tares among the wheat.

MacArthur gives us two televisual examples of bewitching:

It’s a bewitching that comes about because people want popularity, because they want acceptance. If you can go on Oprah, as one self-confessed evangelical did, and Oprah says to you, “Do I, or does a person have to believe in Jesus Christ to enter heaven?” and you say, “No,” you have been bewitched.

Larry King said to me one day, “I’m going to be okay. I’m going to be okay. When I die I’m going to be okay.” I said, “Really. Why do you say that?” He said, “Because a well-known evangelist told me, because I’m Jewish God’s going to take special care of me.” Who bewitched him?

MacArthur says the state of being bewitched comes from a weakness in the heart and the mind:

It’s not just mental inability. It’s the sinful heart, neglect of the truth. It’s a mind issue, but it’s a heart issue. The mind is not applied, carefully examining the truth, because the heart is not diligently devoted to that truth. Paul says, “You’re foolish, and you have become bewitched.”

Turning to the second half of the verse, about how Paul (principally) presented Christ and the Crucifixion to the Galatians, MacArthur explains what the Apostle meant:

“This was openly declared to you. I preached the gospel to you, and you embraced me like I was an angel. You embraced me as if I was Christ Himself. It isn’t that you just could hear in your imagination the ringing of the hammers as He was nailed to the cross; it isn’t that you could just hear the cries of the mocking crowd, or the cries of Jesus from the cross, or in your mind’s eye, you could see the blood and sweat running down His body; it isn’t just that you saw the physical reality of His death. It was that you understood that it was a substitutionary sacrifice for you. You understood the significance of His death. You understood that He was dying in your place, that your sins were imputed to Him, so that His righteousness could be imputed to you. You understood the gospel of salvation. I preached Christ to you, fully to you, crucified to you, and therefore, risen again. And the reality was you believed, you believed. And miraculously you were transformed. And all those churches in Galatia are a result of the preaching of the gospel of a crucified Christ.

Now how can you, when you have seen Jesus Christ publicly portrayed crucified, go back to the Law? Are you saying that the cross was unnecessary and you must save yourself, or are you saying that the cross was insufficient, or that the death of Christ was a partial provision, and you have to make up the rest by your works? If you are saying that, you are blaspheming the Christ of the cross. But that’s what a works system does. When it requires something from you, then it’s not all of Christ. You have assaulted Christ.”

On that point, Paul asks the Galatians if they received the Holy Spirit through a works-based law or by hearing with faith (verse 2).

Henry offers this analysis:

He appeals to the experiences they had had of the working of the Spirit upon their souls (Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:2); he puts them in mind that, upon their becoming Christians, they had received the Spirit, that many of them at least had been made partakers not only of the sanctifying influences, but of the miraculous gifts, of the Holy Spirit, which were eminent proofs of the truth of the Christian religion and the several doctrines of it, and especially of this, that justification is by Christ only, and not by the works of the law, which was one of the peculiar and fundamental principles of it. To convince them of the folly of their departing from this doctrine, he desires to know how they came by these gifts and graces: Was it by the works of the law, that is, the preaching of the necessity of these in order to justification? This they could not say, for that doctrine had not then been preached to them, nor had they, as Gentiles, any pretence to justification in that way. Or was it by the hearing of faith, that is, the preaching of the doctrine of faith in Christ as the only way of justification? This, if they would say the truth, they were obliged to own, and therefore must be very unreasonable if they should reject a doctrine of the good effects of which they had had such experience. Note, (1.) It is usually by the ministry of the gospel that the Spirit is communicated to persons. And, (2.) Those are very unwise who suffer themselves to be turned away from the ministry and doctrine which have been blessed to their spiritual advantage.

Paul calls the Galatians ‘foolish’ again, asking that, having the Spirit’s work active in them they now think that they can be perfected by the flesh (verse 3), i.e. via circumcision and other ceremonial rituals of the Old Covenant.

MacArthur explains that there is sometimes another false teaching which appears in the Church, a Gnostic one proclaiming that one has to have a special insight in order to receive the Holy Spirit:

That is another bewitching lie that floats around, that you can be a Christian without the Holy Spirit until you attain some level of spirituality. Every believer has the Holy Spirit. So the work of Christ was a finished work, not requiring anything from the Law; and the coming of the Holy Spirit was a complete work, not requiring anything from the Law either. He came by faith.

“Are you so foolish?” – verse 3 – “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” In other words, “Is the work of Christ only partial and you have to add the important part? And is the presence of the Holy Spirit only partial and you have to add the important part; and in both cases, the important part is something your flesh produces? See this for what it is: Christ’s work is complete, the Holy Spirit’s presence is complete, the Law adds nothing to the work of Christ, the Law adds nothing to the work of the Holy Spirit.”

The word ‘suffer’ in verse 4 is better translated as ‘experience’. Paul asks if they experienced all that they did in their Christian conversion in vain, if indeed it was in vain (verse 4).

MacArthur reinterprets the verse as follows:

Did you suffer or better, “experience” – “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?”

Was that experience in vain? Was it for nothing? And now somehow, was that some kind of false feeling, an illusion, something that never really happened until you get circumcised, and keep the rituals and the ceremonies? What could Judaizers or what could anybody else add to Christ’s work on the cross? Answer – What? – nothing. Don’t be bewitched.

So far, Paul has discussed Christ and the Holy Spirit.

He then brings in God the Father — completing his references to the Holy Trinity — by asking if He, meaning God, supplies them with the presence of the Holy Spirit and the miracles among them by works of the law or by faith (verse 5).

MacArthur offers this analysis:

This is talking about the Father. How do you know that? Because in Luke 11:13, in John 14:16 and 26, twice, Jesus says, “When I go, the Father will send the Spirit.” So he says in verse 5, “So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit” – that’s the Father. The Father is the one who provides you with the Spirit; He is one of the gifts of the Father. And, by the way, the word “provides,” epichorge, root word chorge, means “bountifully,” “abundantly,” “super abundantly,” “lavishly.”

“So then, are you saying that the Father who lavishly provided you with the Spirit and works miracles among you,” – perhaps the apostolic miracles, but perhaps even more significantly, the miracle of regeneration done by God “are you saying that He does that by the works of the Law because you’ve earned it? Did God save you because of something you did? Did God come and miraculously transform you because of something you did, or simply by the hearing with faith?”

And we know the answer to this: The Son did a complete work on your behalf, the Spirit did a complete work on your behalf, and the Father did a complete work on your behalf. Nothing is left out. You didn’t receive salvation or the Holy Spirit or regeneration by anything you did, it was the full and perfect work of Christ, the full and perfect work of the Spirit, the full and perfect work of the Father.

“You’ve experienced that. You’ve experienced power of the gospel in your life. You’ve experienced the power of the Spirit in your life. You’ve experienced the power of the Father in your life. You’ve been living in that trinitarian power. And now all of a sudden, these bewitching Jews show up and tell you that all of this is inadequate.” That is a blasphemous assault on the Triune God. It diminishes the work of Christ on the cross, the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer, and the work of the Father in the miracle of regeneration. The whole Trinity and all that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have to offer you is yours by faith and faith alone. “You foolish Galatians. Are you so bewitched?” “You are,” says Paul to the Colossians, “complete in Him.”

Then Paul brings in Abraham, saying that our father in faith believed in God’s promises to him during his lifetime and now, even beyond the grave, countless generations later; God counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness (verse 6).

Henry expands on our inheritance from Abraham, as God promised:

Abraham believed God, and that was accounted to him for righteousness (Galatians 3:6; Galatians 3:6); that is, his faith fastened upon the word and promise of God, and upon his believing he was owned and accepted of God as a righteous man: as on this account he is represented as the father of the faithful, so the apostle would have us to know that those who are of faith are the children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:7), not according to the flesh, but according to the promise; and, consequently, that they are justified in the same way that he was. Abraham was justified by faith, and so are they.

Paul has more to follow on Abraham. We’ll look at what he has to say next week.

Next time — Galatians 3:7-9

Bible read me 2The three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Galatians 2:11-14

Paul Opposes Peter

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.[a] 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

——————————————————————————–

Last week’s post discussed the affirmation from those leading the church in Jerusalem — Peter (Cephas), James (our Lord’s brother) and John — of Paul’s apostleship.

As was the case with Paul’s other church plants, as soon as he left, false teachers — often Judaizers — infiltrated the congregations spreading a false gospel.

The same happened in the churches of the region of Galatia: Lystra, Iconium, Derbe and Antioch.

Therefore, Paul must condemn them in no uncertain terms. This he does by discussing the Jerusalem Council and, in today’s verses, the damaging effect the Judaizers had upon Peter in Antioch.

Paul is determined to reinforce the doctrine of justification by faith through grace rather than a false works-based salvation through circumcision.

John MacArthur says (emphases mine):

This is a polemical book. It is a fight. It is a defense of the true gospel against those who were purveyors of the false gospel.

Paul states bluntly that when Cephas came to Antioch, the church in Syria, he (Paul) opposed him to his face because he stood condemned (verse 11).

That’s a very strong statement and to those, like me, who admire Peter’s bold character even though he is flawed, it seems that Paul was being unnecessarily harsh.

Yet, as we find out — and Pauline apologists already know this — Peter had to be confronted in the most direct terms.

MacArthur explains why Paul calls Peter by the name of Cephas:

Peter is the Greek word; Cephas is the Aramaic

As to Paul’s stance towards Peter, Matthew Henry says that it was also for the benefit of the congregation in Antioch:

Notwithstanding Peter’s character, yet, when he observes him thus behaving himself to the great prejudice both of the truth of the gospel and the peace of the church, he is not afraid to reprove him for it. Paul adhered resolutely to his principles, when others faltered in theirs; he was as good a Jew as any of them (for he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews), but he would magnify his office as the apostle of the Gentiles, and therefore would not see them discouraged and trampled upon.

What was Peter’s role in Antioch?

Henry says that Peter was unlikely to have been the head of the church there, because, if he were, Paul would have treated him differently, which is not to say that he would have excused the Apostle’s sin:

Antioch was one of the chief churches of the Gentile Christians, as Jerusalem was of those Christians who turned from Judaism to the faith of Christ. There is no colour of reason for the supposition that Peter was bishop of Antioch. If he had, surely Paul would not have withstood him in his own church, as we here find he did; but, on the contrary, it is here spoken of as an occasional visit which he made thither. In their other meeting, there had been good harmony and agreement. Peter and the other apostles had both acknowledged Paul’s commission and approved his doctrine, and they parted very good friends. But in this Paul finds himself obliged to oppose Peter, for he was to be blamed, a plain evidence that he was not inferior to him

MacArthur says that Peter had been in Antioch for some time and was well known by the congregation. I would add that his strong personality contributed to the fact that he was viewed favourably there:

Peter had come to Antioch, Antioch of Syria where the first church was and where Paul and Barnabas were pastors, along with a group of other men mentioned in the twelfth chapter of Acts. Peter had come there, and he’d stayed a long time. Peter obviously must have been the center of attention. “Tell us about Jesus.” Can you imagine that? “Tell us about Him. Tell us, What was it like when you walked on water? Tell us all the things that we’ve heard.” Remember the gospels haven’t been written yet, and an eyewitness with Christ would have meant everything to these Gentile believers up in Antioch in a flourishing gospel church. Peter would have been some kind of icon, some kind of hero to them

Peter had done something that Paul saw as an attack on the gospel: the gospel of grace alone, faith alone, apart from works. And so he condemned him. This is an apostolic clash of massive proportions.

Paul says that before the Judaizers — ‘certain men came from James’ — Peter was happy eating with the Gentiles; however, after the Judaizers arrived, Peter drew back from the Gentiles because he feared the men from the ‘circumcision party’ (verse 12).

MacArthur explains that the men who ‘came from James’ were unlikely to have had his consent or commission to go to Antioch; it was a false claim:

I don’t think James sent these men. I think they said they were from James, and they had some connection to the Jerusalem church. At this time, that’s the mother church, that’s the church. So somehow they were associated with it. And prior to the arrival of these men who came from the Jerusalem church and said they had a connection with James, Peter used to eat with the Gentiles.

Peter’s withdrawal from associating with the Gentiles set a bad example for any Jewish converts, because all believers are one in Christ.

Henry says:

… when there came some Jewish Christians from Jerusalem, he grew more shy of the Gentiles, only to humour those of the circumcision and for fear of giving them offence, which doubtless was to the great grief and discouragement of the Gentile churches. Then he withdrew, and separated himself. His fault herein had a bad influence upon others, for the other Jews also dissembled with him; though before they might be better disposed, yet now, from his example, they took on them to scruple eating with the Gentiles, and pretended they could not in conscience do it, because they were not circumcised.

MacArthur says that, historically, Jews considered Gentiles to be unclean. He also tells us why it was so egregious for Peter to fall backwards into his old pattern of Jewish traditions:

Just as a normal rule of life, Jews didn’t eat with Gentiles. Forget Christianity, forget the gospel, forget the church; Jews didn’t do that. A Gentile was unclean; a Gentile home was unclean; a Gentile utensil was unclean. They couldn’t go near Gentiles. They couldn’t eat off the dish a Gentile offered them. And these were rabbinic standards that were iron-fisted laws. It was believed that all Gentile food was contaminated by being unclean, to say nothing of that which was not kosher, not according to the standards of the Mosaic dietary laws. So what you had was the Jews holding to their own dietary laws and a kind of developing racism toward Gentiles. We saw the racism even in the day of Jonah, where he didn’t want to see Gentiles repent. Jews resented, hated Gentiles; and they kept separate.

Peter was raised in that environment. He comes to Antioch; he’s in a Gentile church. And what does he do? He does what a Jew would never do. He used to eat with the Gentiles. What is that saying? That he knows that the lesson he learned in Acts 10, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” There’s nothing unclean anymore, nothing unclean anymore – the dietary laws are over. In Christ, the middle wall is broken down. Jew and Gentile are one, and Christ is neither Jew nor Greek. That’s all over with. That’s all over. He knows that.

He also knows that they are brothers and sisters in Christ. And when he eats with them, it’s not just a meal; it’s the love feast; it’s the Lord’s Table. He’s just living life with the Gentiles. He’s with them all the time. They’re being served the same food. He’s finding out what it is to eat all the stuff that Jews could never eat. He’s been liberated.

He is turning his back on the [???] halakhoth, the list of elder traditions that prescribed certain kinds of food. And the fact that you couldn’t eat certain kinds of meat. You couldn’t eat meat that was butchered by a Gentile, or that was, a part of it was offered to idols, or violated the laws of Moses, or had been in the hands of Gentiles, or served on Gentile plates, and all of that. And all of a sudden that’s not even an issue. Peter’s having a great time. He’s discovering all kinds of foods that he’d never eaten before, eating with Gentiles, his brothers and sisters in Christ, until certain men show up. And he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof. He pulled back.

They would have criticized him mercilessly for eating with those Gentiles. And they would have said this: “Not only are you not to eat with Gentiles, they’re not believers, because they haven’t been circumcised, and they don’t adhere to Mosaic rules. So you’re eating not only with Gentiles who are unclean, but you’re eating with nonbelievers.” And they obviously intimidated Peter.

“He began to withdraw and hold himself aloof” – and there’s no questioning the motive – “he was fearing the party of the circumcision.” That’s the Judaizers. “The party of the circumcision” they became known as. He was afraid of them. Good men, great men – for the sake of pride and self-protection, self-preservation, popularity – compromise. They compromise.

Paul says that the rest of the Jews in the church in Antioch copied Peter’s example, ‘hypocritically’; even worse, Barnabas, who had been present at the time the Jerusalem Council took place, went along with them (verse 13).

Henry warns us against spiritual weakness, when we are tempted to please men instead of God:

And (would you think it?) Barnabas himself, one of the apostles of the Gentiles, and one who had been instrumental in planting and watering the churches of the Gentiles, was carried away with their dissimulation. Here note, (1.) The weakness and inconstancy of the best of men, when left to themselves, and how apt they are to falter in their duty to God, out of an undue regard to the pleasing of men. And, (2.) The great force of bad examples, especially the examples of great men and good men, such as are in reputation for wisdom and honour.

MacArthur uses Peter as a common example of the path to sanctification:

Peter just can’t get out of his own shadow, can he? I mean it’s just a history of this guy doing this. He’s an illustration of how sanctification works. It’s not a straight line upward. It’s a few steps forward and a few steps back, and a few steps forward and a few steps back. And it’s where we all live, isn’t it?

How true!

Paul, by interrogating Peter on this sin, encapsulates the confusion and division that could damage the church in Antioch. In front of the congregation, Paul asks Peter how a Jew who can live like a Gentile can force a Gentile to live like a Jew (verse 14).

MacArthur says:

Peter became a hypocrite. He acted like he agreed with the Judaizers – devastating. And so did the rest of the Jews that were there, and so did Barnabas. And now what you have is a fracture in the whole church.

And what is this more than that? This is not about disunity; this is an assault on the gospel of faith, because now Peter is acting as if the Judaizers are right. “For that,” Paul says, “I opposed him to his face, because he was to be condemned.”

MacArthur has more on the composition of the congregation:

That’s a Gentile city and a Gentile church, of course. Some Jewish believers were there, but it was predominantly a Gentile church.

What Peter did was dangerous:

Without saying anything, he took sides with those who taught salvation by faith and works, without saying anything. He fractured the church. Overnight the church was in chaos because of his defection back to Judaism, as if the Judaizers were right, these enemies of the gospel whose message was cursed.

MacArthur explains why Paul had to condemn Peter publicly. Peter had turned his back on the Gentiles in public, therefore, a rebuke in front of the congregation was necessary:

Verse 14, let me read this to you. “When I was that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas” – and this is what he said to him when he opposed him to the face as it’s mentioned in verse 11; this is what he said – “I said to Cephas in the presence of all,” – in front of the entire church – ‘If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles – that’s what you’ve been doing, you’ve been living like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?’” Paul is profoundly exercised.

Verse 14 says, “I saw that they were not straightforward, ortho podeó, from which we get orthopedic. Ortho meaning straight, podeó is the verb from which the word “foot” comes. They weren’t walking straight. They were not walking straight about the truth of the gospel

Peter had believed that he could eat and fellowship with Gentiles; he had done it. He knew that since Acts 10 and his experience with Cornelius. He had no longer lived according to Jewish prescription. He had left that behind in the tenth chapter of Acts. Now he goes back to that in a hypocritical way and leads others to the same hypocrisy. He didn’t deal honestly with the truth of the gospel, he altered people’s perception of truth by his behavior. What an indictment.

Paul is furious about this, and so he opposes him to his face, but he does it – middle of verse 14 – in the presence of all. Consistent with what Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5: “An elder who sins, rebuke before all, that others may fear.” He confronts Peter in a public way.

Augustine said, “It is not advantageous to correct in secret an error which occurred publicly.” He’s right. You have to show public condemnation of a public sin; so he does that. It’s a lot better than pulling Peter aside and trying to fix him in private. He needed to be confronted in public, because that’s where his disaffection had occurred and led people into confusion.

They knew the gospel. This is a church. They’re saved by faith alone, they knew that. The Gentiles knew that; the Jewish believers knew that. That’s why Paul is so shocked. Back in chapter 1 he says, “I’m amazed that you’re so quickly deserting Him who called you for a different gospel. Why are you leaning that way?”

Peter is not overtly saying, “I don’t believe the true gospel.” He’s just acting like what the Judaizers are teaching is true. This is a very dangerous compromise. Anytime those who preach the true gospel affirm or embrace anyone who teaches a false gospel, confusion reigns. “Come out from among them and be separate. Light has no fellowship with darkness; Christ with Belial.”

“Peter, you can’t do this. Everyone in Antioch knows you’re in the habit of living like a Gentile since the tenth chapter of Acts; and you’ve done it here. And they all know that you preach the gospel of grace, and you affirm the gospel of grace and faith alone. And now you’re playing right into the hands of the Judaizers, and you’re acting as if they’re right by lining up with them.” This threatens the integrity of the gospel. This is always about the gospel. This is a serious breach. So, with that, we come to verse 15.

The rest of the chapter is in the Lectionary, but it is worth reading because it is about justification — or righteousness — by faith through grace:

Justified by Faith

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Paul has much more to say on this doctrine, and he rebukes the Galatians for falling away from it.

Next time — Galatians 3:1-6

© Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 2009-2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? If you wish to borrow, 1) please use the link from the post, 2) give credit to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 3) copy only selected paragraphs from the post — not all of it.
PLAGIARISERS will be named and shamed.
First case: June 2-3, 2011 — resolved

Creative Commons License
Churchmouse Campanologist by Churchmouse is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://churchmousec.wordpress.com/.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,542 other followers

Archive

Calendar of posts

October 2022
S M T W T F S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

http://martinscriblerus.com/

Bloglisting.net - The internets fastest growing blog directory
Powered by WebRing.
This site is a member of WebRing.
To browse visit Here.

Blog Stats

  • 1,688,151 hits