Posts Tagged ‘Authority of God’

Finding Jesus in Genesis: Lesson 1

Finding Jesus in Genesis: Lesson 1

© Chet Bishop 2012, (revisited and revised 2018)

Old Testament Foundations for New Testament Faith

Genesis 1:1-10; Luke 24:13-35

Introduction:

In Luke 24:13-35, we find the account of how Jesus met two of his disciples as they walked the seven or so miles down from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They did not recognize him, and when he asked what they had been discussing, they told him how distressed they were over the events of the last few days, including the trial, crucifixion, death, and burial of Christ…(and maybe the resurrection, though they weren’t sure what to make of that just yet.) He gave them an astonishing rebuke, saying “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?

The disciples must have been flabbergasted to get that sort of response from this “Stranger, on the road to Emmaus,” but he didn’t give them time to respond…he just went ahead and taught them, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, specifically what the Old Testament had to say about himself. The scriptures he taught them were not new to them at all. These were adult Jewish men who had passed their “Bar Mitzvahs” and were “sons of the book.” They knew the written word fairly well, for non-Levitical men…not scribes or priests. But they had never tied the whole of scripture together with the single central theme of the Person of the Messiah. Following this line of thinking, we would like to attempt to do just that. We are not the first, by any means, but it seems profitable to follow the Lord’s example, and teach the way He taught.

We will begin by pointing out that the Person we see in the Gospels did not originate there. We see that the “Life of Christ” is only “the account of his physical life as a human being on earth.” The rest of the Written Word of God reveals Him as the Eternal Living Word of God, pre-existing His Creation, because he is the Creator, and superseding the importance and glory of the whole creation, because He is God. So, with that in mind, let us proceed, beginning at Moses.

“Beginning at Moses”

Moses is the writer of the first five books of the Old Testament. Genesis is the “Book of Beginnings”, so we will start there. To begin with, it seems fair to point out that the phrase, “In the beginning, God…” uses the Hebrew word “Elohim” for “God.” The Hebrew language seems peculiar to us, because we English-speakers think of nouns as either singular or plural, meaning ONE of something, or MORE than one (two or more). In the Hebrew language there are singular, dual and plural: one, two and more than two (three or more.) Guess which type the word Elohim turns out to be? Yes! It is a plural noun, designating three or more!

I don’t want to put more weight on this point than is fitting, since that word is also used for the false gods—the pagan gods; but, you see, they were plural; there were lots of them! The religion of Israel is strictly monotheistic. (Deuteronomy 6:4) “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God is One God!” In the King James Bible, the word “God” (Capital “G”, lower-case “o-d”) is always a translation of the Hebrew word Elohim. It is the office of deity, not His personal name, nor even a title reserved just for Him. It is applied to false gods, too, though it is printed in all lower-case, when that is the context. We will see several other names of God, as we progress.

In Isaiah, God says he is the only God that has ever existed, and the only one that ever will exist. In fact, after declaring his singularity, he also points out (Isaiah 43:11) that apart from him there is no savior. So…why would he use the plural word for himself, unless there was something about himself that He wanted, thereby, to reveal? There’s something here, to think about, at least: possibly a hint of the Trinity. In light of that, let’s consider the first four words:

“In the Beginning, God…”

This four-word fragment is a profound statement about the rest of the scriptures, the whole creation, and life itself. In the beginning, (before anything else) God…. (Yes, “in the beginning, God created,” but that isn’t all.) In the Beginning he was God. Before anything else, HE IS! “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) “Before Abraham was, I AM! (John 8:57) This speaks of the Eternality of God, and the Preeminence of God! We will discover later, that, in full agreement with Genesis 1:1, God not only pre-existed His creation (which only makes sense), but He himself has no beginning. He does not have a starting-place. He exists outside of time and space, so that all time is “now,” to Him, though he can also address time from human perspective. He has no beginning and no end. “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God!” (Psalm 90:2)

The Order of the Creation

It is important to consider the order in which God says the earth and its contents were created. There are several things here, which point out the stark contrast between the Naturalist’s world-view, which assumes everything “just grew there”, by random chance, and cosmic caprice, versus the Biblicist’s view, which sees through the eyes of scripture. The first contrast is in the fact that God says the Earth was created three days before the Sun, Moon and stars. From the naturalist’s point of view, this is considered laughable. So, we are faced with a decision, here, in the very first chapter of the Bible: “Will we see this as the Word of God, and take it at face value, or assume that it is merely a “primitive world-view,” thus not to be taken seriously?”

If we take the former stance, then we can begin to learn and understand who the Author really is, and what He has planned for us. If we take the latter stance, then the Bible becomes increasingly a “closed book” to us, as we assume God to be a liar, or at least a very questionable authority. Assuming, then, that we believe this to be God’s Word, let’s take this verse by verse:

The Earth

“God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”  He created the physical Earth, but he left out the light, initially. We see elsewhere in scripture that He himself is the light, so perhaps he is showing, here, what the world is like without God. If so, it is only a glimpse, so we can’t build much upon it. But another thing we see is the immense, unimaginable, unmeasurable power of God: we call this “Omnipotence,” meaning “all-powerful.” God is omnipotent. We have already seen His eternality and preeminence. Now we see His unlimited authority and power.

The Spirit

“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (KJV)  Other translations render this as “was brooding over the face of the deep.” Either way, we can immediately see that either God is a Spirit (true), or, God has a Spirit. Also, in either case, the omnipresence of God is in view, as He is hovering over the entire face of the waters. The Spirit of God is not a created being. He is God, as we will see much later. He is omnipresent: He is everywhere at once. Also, He is active. He is dynamic, and vital: not just a presence, like gravity.

The Light

It is interesting to me to see how God handled the light and dark. He says “God said, Let there be light, and there was light, and God saw the light that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness.” Now, there are several things we can observe, here:

  1. The first is the fact that God speaks. Why is that so important? Only persons speak, as a rule. Parrots can be trained to mimic human speech, as can a few other birds and animals. But within the natural realm, pretty much only humans speak. That does not make God human, but it does make Him a person, not a force. (By the way, in Acts chapter 13 we see the same about the Holy Spirit. He is a person, not a force; not a “breath of God”, or the “active force of God,” or “a feeling,” or any such thing. He is a Person, and specifically, the Person of God… usually the third person listed of the triune Godhead.) We refer to this as the “personality” of God. He is not “impersonal”
  2. God said “Let there be light” and there was In the New Testament we read a parallel passage—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…all things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made.” The Apostle John introduced “The Word:” the “spoken (and living) communication of God.” How was the world created? By the Word of God. And Who is that Word? “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His Glory…” John 1:1-3, 14
  3. We also see that “when God speaks, things happen.” This reflects the total authority of God. In Hebrews 11:3 we are told that, “by faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God.” We could take that in several ways, I suppose, but, the primary way we are to understand Scripture is to allow God’s Word to explain God’s Word. Thus, in John 1:1-3, when I read “In the Beginning was the WORD, and…the Word was God…” and that, “all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made that was made,” I have to see it as a direct parallel to Hebrews 11:3. When it says they were “framed by the Word of God,” it doesn’t simply mean that the worlds were made “under the authority and auspices of God.” It literally means He (the Word) made Jesus is the Creatorand He is God!

    We see it proven, in the life of Christ: When Jesus said to the storm, “Peace, be still,” it instantly became a great calm, rather than a deadly storm. He is the true Master.God said “Let there be light”, and the light sprang into being. Eventually we are told that God is not only the source of light, but that He himself is that light. But when he commanded it, the light evidently filled the universe. How do I know? Next verse:
  4. “God saw the light, that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness.” Three things:
    1. God sees! God observes! He is not “way out there, somewhere,” indifferent to what is happening here on earth! He knows exactly what is happening here on earth. He is Omniscient–all-knowing!
    2. He made the judgment that “the light was good,” but made no such judgment about darkness. (God has the authority to judge His own works.)
    3. Then it says that he “divided the light from the darkness.” (He makes executive decisions about the physical universe.) But, why would he need to do that? We know from God’s Word that the very character of light is to dispel darkness. That is what light Ephesians 5:13 says “Whatsoever maketh manifest is Light.” It shows us that which is otherwise in darkness. Darkness is nothing more than the “absence of light.” Darkness has no substance of its own. Light has existence, and attributes: it is both a wave and a particle. It is measurable. It has an effect on its surroundings. Darkness has none of these. I can go buy batteries for a flashlight, but no one has ever invented a “flash-dark!” In order to “produce darkness,” all we can do is shut out light. You may have noticed a growing tendency in our society to do just that: to deliberately “shut out light”…to make it socially unacceptable to speak God’s Word, or to testify of its truth. By speaking God’s Word, we “make manifest” the things that the World would rather keep in darkness. So they strongly desire to “shut out the light,” and maintain their own darkness.Therefore; for God to “divide the light from the darkness,” he had to limit the light: He had to reduce the light to a single source, making it come from only one direction. Prior to that, the light evidently permeated the universe, as He is the light, and He himself fills the universe and beyond. How do I know that he had to reduce it to a single source? Because the very next verse says that “And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night, and the evening and the morning were the first day.”

This was the beginning of time, for us. The rotation of the earth, ticking off the days, one by one, has been a faithful clock, ever since. But a Day is coming, which will be the last natural day: after that, there will be no night. The light will once again be unlimited; permeating all things and all places. But even at that first day, God himself was the only source of light. Notice that the heavenly luminaries were not created until three days later (v. 14-19.) They then became the time-pieces for Mankind, who were yet to be created.

The Heaven, or “Sky”

We may think of the sky as “just being there”, as part of the earth, but there is a very peculiar statement, here: He says, “Let there be a firmament (KJV: other translations say “expanse”) in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” And God separated the waters below the “expanse”, or “firmament” from those above the “expanse”, or “firmament”, and He called the expanse “heaven” (KJV), or “sky.”

Unfortunately for translators, in both Greek and Hebrew, there is only one word for “heaven”; and in both cases, it simply means “heaved-up things”…and the same word is used to describe:

  1. “Sky” where the birds, wind and clouds move (the atmosphere,)
  2. “Sky”, where the sun, moon and stars exist (outer space,) and
  3. “Heaven, proper”, which is seen as the throne-room or habitation of God.

I wish it were otherwise, but that is just a fact. Only the context can tell us which “heaven” is in view. In this context, the King James Version translators assumed that the readers would not be confused, and simply translated it (quite correctly) as “heaven”…meaning “Sky, where the birds, wind and clouds move,” as that was common usage in 1611. The modern translators saw that the language had changed and that modern readers were very likely to be confused, so they (also quite correctly) translated it “sky”, meaning “Sky, where the birds, wind and clouds move.”

We can sort it out logically, and understand that the Sun, Moon and Stars certainly do not exist “between the waters”, nor is it likely that God’s throne is situated there. So we correctly see it as the nearest “sky.” But this raises another question: What is the water above the sky?

This is not the clouds, as clouds actually are only in the lowest levels of our atmosphere.  When we study the Flood (chapter 7,) we will see what apparently existed as three separate sources of water:

  1. The fountains of the great deep were broken up, and
  2. The windows of heaven (sky) were opened and
  3. It rained.

There was evidently a water-barrier cloud around the earth, in ice-crystal form, which may have shielded the earth from harmful radiation. It apparently collapsed, as part of the flood.

I remember reading, about 30 years ago, in Time magazine, or Newsweek, that some scientist had spent 20 years trying to convince the rest of the scientific community that there were thousands of immense snowballs, the size of two-story houses, entering our atmosphere daily, from outer space. They did not show up on telescopes and they melted and evaporated virtually instantly when they hit the atmosphere, just from friction. He had finally developed equipment with which to detect such snowballs, in a manner that satisfied the other scientists, but they did not see it as a “significant” discovery, so the news simply disappeared in a matter of weeks. No one cared. It was a very disappointing response. But those snowballs may be the remnant of that old water-barrier, still falling to earth, and still adding to our supply of water.

At the flood: the majority of the water from above the sky was released, adding to the flood. Water from under the ground and within the ocean was also released, adding to the flood. And, here is the clincher: the Rain only continued for forty days and forty nights…but the floodwaters continued to rise for five months. After that time the waters began to subside. It is something to think about, for sure.

The Dry Land

The next passage seemed odd to me, when I first read it, as I had always seen the world as a solid mass with a certain amount of water in certain places (plural.) But the fact is, there is a great deal of water on the Earth (mostly salt, now,) and so deep that it could easily cover the whole earth, were it not for the huge variations in surface elevations. It requires places like the Challenger Deep, and the other great deep abysses, to contain the water. What we miss, here, and elsewhere, is the fact that the original creation had no mountains as we see them today…it was a single, low land-mass; one giant, fairly flat pancake of a continent. We see the proof of that, in Genesis 7:18-20, where a 15 cubit increase covered the “mountains,” and over in Genesis 10:25, where, after the flood, we see the breakup of that  huge, flat continent.

So, in verses 9 and 10, when he says “let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place,” he literally meant one place…not thousands of bays, lakes, oceans and gulfs. There was one body of water, and one land mass. And God saw that it was good. We will see later where the rivers and the mountains came from, and why the geology looks the way it does, today.

Next time, we will continue to read, to see

  • How Man came into being,
  • How we became sinners, and
  • What God has chosen to do about it

Lord Jesus, give us Grace and Light, to believe your Word; to understand your Word, and, by your Spirit, to apply it to our lives. Make us lights in the dark world around us. Help us to serve you faithfully, and with Joy.


God’s Authority in the Gospel

The Authority of the Gospel

© C. O. Bishop 10/10/14  THCF 10/12/14


Galatians 1:17-24

Introduction:

We sometimes think of the Gospel as “a get home free” ticket, or a “fire-escape clause”, a “lifeboat”, or simply the “bait” with which God draws people to himself. In a way, there is an element of truth to each of these oversimplifications. But the fact is; all of them miss what is surely one of the main points of the message. The Gospel has the authority of God. This is His chosen (and only) means by which he saves humans. He describes it as his power to save sinners who believe (Romans 1:16), and it is the only thing so described in scripture. Furthermore, it is not something humans would have come up with even if they could have—it is a stumbling-block to virtually everyone, at one level or another, simply because it is so not human-centered. It centers upon the Holiness of God, His Goodness, His Wisdom, and His Love. The Gospel is only “good news” to those willing to realize the “bad news”.

This explains Paul’s reaction to Christ, in a way: once Paul had his assignment, you will notice he didn’t mess around trying to “pray about it” or any other procrastinating trick that we might tend to do. He had already been praying—and blinded by God—when Ananias came in and God restored his sight. So, when the Lord Jesus also revealed his assignment, he “immediately conferred not with flesh and blood”. Paul had seen clearly the “bad news”: he had been warring against God. And he was beginning to learn the “good news”—that God could save him, and wanted to use his life; Paul was in prayer (probably lots of confession) and fasting, when Ananias came to see him. He was still physically blind until God restored his sight. He had a new life; restored with a purpose…he was an Apostle. It was not up to other humans to tell him what God had already told him. It was up to Paul to obey. He understood the authority of the Gospel, and is trying, still today, to convey it to his readers.

 Faith is an Obedient Response to a Revealed Truth

17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

He had no need to go talk to them…he was doing what he was told to do, and going where he was sent. He believed Jesus was who he said He was, and had received proof in his own life. He had an assignment Ananias was told by Jesus that Paul was to be a chosen vessel for Christ;’ that he would bear the name of Christ before the Gentiles, and kings, as well as to Israel. Jesus said, “I will show him how great things he must suffer for my sake.” (Acts 9:15, 16) So Paul was convinced, and was immediately obedient. You may remember other people in the Bible who responded in similar fashion…Abraham, for example. But Paul goes on to say,

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

This is pretty important in Paul’s mind: he wanted his readers to know that, while the message he preached was completely in agreement with that of the eleven, his message was not dependent upon theirs at all: both came straight from the same source; Jesus Christ. Paul had known the Lord for several years before he ever even met the other apostles. And the first time he met any of them it was only for a brief visit with Peter and James.

So when did Jesus teach Paul? During the three year interval before he saw Peter, evidently. Some time in Arabia, and some time in Damascus. Remember, Damascus was where he was headed when Jesus stopped him (Acts 9), and he had been going there specifically to arrest the Jewish believers living there. (I wonder what their first response was when he showed up as a believer. Probably the news had gotten around, as it was Ananias, a believer from Damascus, who was sent to restore his sight.)

He apparently had a brief time in Arabia, and then went back and spent time preaching in Damascus, and fellowshipping with the Jewish believers there, until the unbelieving Jews tried to kill him, and the believers had to smuggle him out of town. It seems that that was when he first went back to Jerusalem. The believers there were afraid of him, because they had not yet heard of his conversion. Barnabas took him to the apostles but evidently the only two apostles available on that particular trip were Peter and James, (cp. Acts 9:27), and he was introduced to them by Barnabas. Barnabas later became Paul’s partner in the preaching of the Gospel, and was also called an apostle, by Luke, in Acts 14:14.

I don’t really know why anyone would doubt the truth of what Paul shared here, regarding his behavior after having met Jesus. It seems it was common knowledge, by that time. Perhaps he was simply reiterating the fact that his message was not a “spin-off” from that of the eleven, but had been received directly from the risen Jesus Christ. All he can offer to doubters is to call God as his witness, to show that he is not lying. The doubters were not there, when any of these things happened, and he was there. It is an eyewitness account. The Apostles who received him at Jerusalem were still alive and could confirm it, if anyone wanted to ask. Undoubtedly Ananias, of Damascus was still available, too. But God had already borne out the truth of Paul’s testimony in his own life, and in the works of an Apostle that he had done among them there in the province of Galatia. They should have known all this, but Paul brings it all into focus again, in an attempt to present the Gospel he preached as being fully authoritative.

The Authority of the Gospel

The authority of the Gospel is an important point: Either this is just Paul’s opinion, in which case we can take it or leave it; or it really is the Word of God, and we have to take it as having the full backing of God. Peter confirms later that Paul’s writings were scripture. (2nd Peter 3:15, 16) So, while you can still “take it or leave it”, you need to be aware that it is God you are responding to, not just a human author.

Paul continues to share how his life in Christ had begun: he says,

21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;

22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:

23 But they had heard only, that he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

24 And they glorified God in me.

Paul’s point, continuing through these verses, and beyond, is that his message and his ministry came directly from the risen Christ, not from those who were apostles before him, nor from the organized church, or a body of elders, or any other human source. He didn’t go off to Seminary, or seek Holy Orders, or the blessing of a cardinal or pope. He didn’t even go to the County Seat and get a ministerial license. He simply went right to work.

He never even met the churches in Judea, or the remaining apostles until years later. They’d heard of him, all right, by that time; they heard that the one who had been devastating the church was now building it and edifying it: he was strengthening the believers; and the churches in Judea were excited to hear it. They knew it could only have happened by the power and grace of God; by a supernatural intervention, not by human wisdom or force of argument. This is a pretty important idea…we do not need to concern ourselves with human wisdom, forceful arguments, etc. as they virtually never bring people to Christ. We need to seek supernatural intervention. We do so by prayer …and the preaching of the Gospel.

Proof of the Gospel

By the way, the change in Paul’s life is further proof to us, as well, of the Divine source of the Gospel: it transforms lives. Not just by “invigorating” people who were already of a “religious” bent or that were the “goody-two-shoes” sort; but rather by turning around those who were violently opposed to the message. It perhaps could be argued that Paul was both, as he was deeply involved and committed to the religion of the Jews— Judaism— and was a righteous man by Jewish standards. But he was violently opposed (literally) to the message of Salvation through Jesus Christ, and was in the business of tracking down Jewish believers, arresting them, and hauling them back to Jerusalem to face trial. He was a bounty-hunter, if you will—armed with documents giving him authority for search and seizure, and he was headed for Damascus when Jesus intervened personally. He was a one-man Inquisition. But God stopped him and turned him around. He was transformed by the Holy Spirit.

God is still transforming lives today. In my own case, I was an atheist, and dogmatically so. God gave me the opportunity to watch the lives of new believers changing around me, my last year in High school. I had known several of them before they were believers, and I saw the undeniable change in their lives, after salvation. It brought me to the conviction that there was something real going on, and made me receptive to re-thinking my own condition. I eventually saw that I myself was a lost sinner. I tried to change on my own, and found it was beyond my ability to produce consistent change. (I still find it so, as a matter of fact.) Eventually I threw myself on the mercy of God as a helpless, hopeless sinner, which is exactly what He calls us to do.

We don’t like those three words, though: “helpless”, “hopeless” and “sinner.” “Guilty” is another word we avoid today. But all are facts, and unless you recognize them in your own life you will not find a place for the Gospel in your heart. Jesus only offers to save helpless, hopeless, guilty sinners. Not those who feel guilty: guilt is a fact, not a feeling. I usually experience guilt feelings when I am guilty, however, there is such a thing as false guilt, which is feeling guilty about something that is truly not your fault. You can bring that on yourself through wrong thinking, or someone else can load it on you, through casting blame. It is very destructive, because there is no real release except a change in thinking, which is difficult to achieve. Real guilt can be dealt with at the cross, through confession.

The result of Paul’s salvation was that other believers glorified God in him. In fact, one result of the salvation of any sinner is that other believers glorify God in them—we recognize the hand of God in the salvation of any soul, and we give thanks and Glory back to Him. That is called Worship, and God surely deserves it at every level.

The Wisdom of the Gospel is of God, Not of the World

Over in 1st Corinthians 1:17-25, (read it) Paul is addressing a different group of believers, with the same sort of message: the centrality and authority of the Gospel. He had already run into those who counted themselves too smart for the Gospel, or too good for it. In Athens (Acts 17) he had preached a sermon geared to popular appeal, which is still, today, touted as one of the great examples of fine preaching, and it is frequently used as a “textbook case” in homiletics classes in Bible schools and seminaries. But the actual results of that sermon (results are a good thing, right?) were very lackluster…and, the very next place he went (Corinth), Paul had determined to do things differently.

Paul stated that “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel…” (The context, here, was that the people were already beginning to form schisms in the church based on who their mentors had been: who led them to Christ, who baptized them, etc. “Denominations”, if you will, were beginning right then, and Paul was trying to put a stop to it. He said that the Gospel was the key issue.)

He said he was supposed to preach the Gospel “…not with wisdom of words, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” (It is evidently possible to render the Cross powerless, if we drape it in too much human “razzle-dazzle”. We can either use light to reveal truth, or we can use it in such a way that all it breeds is confusion. Consider what light does in the mirrors of a mirrored maze.)

Paul went on to state that the lost world pretty much uniformly sees the preaching of the Cross as foolishness. They are “…too smart for that tripe!” Or, in the case of those deeply entrenched in religions, they may see themselves as “too good” for it. They don’t need a savior—they aren’t sinners! Funny, while Jesus did die for the sins of the whole world…because all of us are sinners… he clearly stated that he did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. People who don’t see themselves as lost have no felt need for a savior. So they reject the message out of hand…and all the more angrily, as they feel you are suggesting that they are sinners. (Well… yeah, as a matter of fact…!)

But then he points out that God’s wisdom sees that the World’s wisdom will not bring people to Christ…ever. (“After that, in the wisdom of God, the World by wisdom knew not God…. So, he says, “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

In contrast, God says he will destroy the “wisdom” of the “wise”—that is, the “worldly wise”, because that sort of wisdom always seeks an avenue by which it can deny God, or at least deny the person of Christ.

In Romans 1:21, 22, Paul says, “…because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…”

Is it possible for a human to be wise? Sure, provided the wisdom comes from God! Human wisdom inevitably leads a person to pride, and the conclusion that he or she does not need God. And even among believers, Human wisdom only leads to contention and self-centeredness. James says that human wisdom that is not from God is “…earthly, sensuous, and devilish”. Those sorts of things do not lead a person to Christ. Human wisdom that comes from God is “…first pure, then peaceable, and easy to be entreated…” That is a whole different outlook.

Conclusion:

We can take Paul as our example: We can choose to have his priorities, and mimic his response to God. In fact, Paul suggests that we do just that: He says “be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1st Corinthians 11:1)

So, as we continue to read through the Epistle to the Churches of the Galatian province, be on the lookout to see things from Paul’s example that you can emulate to one degree or another. Remember; if you are a believer, then the letter is to you, too.

As you read, remember the Divine authority of the Gospel…God is not begging, trying to get you to change your own life—it can’t be done. He is gently commanding you to allow Him to transform you, as he did Paul, and as He has transformed every believer in history, when they stopped rebelling and allowed Him to do His work.

The way He intends to do it is through the written Word and the indwelling Holy Spirit. You can’t hope to have God change your life if you ignore His Word. You can’t hope to have Him change you if you ignore the Holy Spirit, either—and the two always work together. The Spirit will never lead you where the Written Word does not also (implicitly or explicitly) direct you.

It takes effort…you can’t just wait around hoping that God will jump on you and change your heart. If you think it seems hard, remember all the things Paul endured.

Paul told the Church at Philippi, “Unto you it has been given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in His name but also to suffer for his sake!

Guess what? That letter is to us, as well.