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Finish How You Started

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


 Good Morning Beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We're glad you're here.


Today, we're dealing with a society that is being sold the philosophy that there is no absolute truth. Our society could be characterized by the term moral relativism.  There is not only no absolute truth, there is no authority.  There is no standard.  There is no inviolable law.  There is no one against whom we are being measured.  There is no one who has established the authority to whom we must all answer.  Every individual is his own personal authority, has his own truth, and is determiner of what is right or wrong for him.

Our experiences, our faith involves our whole person. Sometimes, we make the mistake that faith is just believing certain truths. We think that if we just get the facts right, we’ll be OK.
But faith is far more than just the intellect. Faith involves our mind, emotions and will. Our experiences are a vital part of understanding our own faith.
The Bible, is the only direct, written revelation there is from God. Within it, there are sixty-six books in all, contained in the Bible: Thirty-nine, of which, are in the Old Testament,and  twenty-seven in the New Testament. This is the revelation of God. No one is to take away anything from it or add anything to it, or "it will be added to them the plagues that are written in it."
Let us bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father,
Thank You for Your Word for us today, such a great truth, help us make application to our hearts.
Lord, we trust this is profitable lesson, that we mustn't fall victim to the philosophies of our day. Thank You for this wonderful reminder, that we must confront the sinner, that we must make clear he is cursed for being in violation of Your law and stands to face eternal judgment, apart from faith in Jesus Christ. For where there is faith in Jesus Christ, trust as Lord and Savior, there is true repentance and forgiveness of sin. Christ crucified becomes the sin bearer and the repentant sinner becomes the bearer of Christ's righteousness.
Thank You Father for this precious gift. What a beautiful gift is our salvation. We are so unworthy, so undeserving of such grace. We are so grateful, so thankful.
In Christ's precious name
Today's Message: Finish How You Started

The first argument Paul uses is based on the Galatians’ personal experience with Christ when they were saved. How were they saved? How did they receive the Spirit of God? Was it through the law, legalistic observances or was it by having an obedient faith?
Paul calls on his converts to recall what took place when they first responded to the gospel in verse 1. You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Chris was publicly portrayed as having been crucified?

That Paul is both mystified and frustrated over the Galatians’ conduct is evident from the manner in which he addresses them as foolish. The Judaizers had come along and convinced them that their experience was not complete. That they needed something else. The Galatian believers had become so fascinated by these false teachers’ arguments that they had become bewitched.

Magicians or sorcerers were common in Paul's day, which was recorded in the book of Acts, and used optical illusions and satanic power to perform their rites. The word bewitched, is of course, related to witchcraft. It means to cast a spell upon someone through the power of evil or the evil eye. Paul therefore calls them foolish or spiritually dull. Certainly they remembered who and what saved them.

Paul had portrayed or verbally created a picture for them the Gospel. In vivid fashion the Holy Spirit had caused their minds and hearts to see the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. That picture of Christ "having been crucified" for their salvation was to remain an accomplished fact with present results, in their minds. That is what they were to continue to focus upon it. But their minds had become bewitched. They had come under the power of the evil eye and had gazed at it so long that they were transfixed by it. If the Galatians had kept their eyes where they belonged, upon Christ crucified, this bewitchment would never have occurred. 

For example, just as long as Peter kept his eyes fixed upon Jesus he walked on water. Only when he looked at the tossing sea did he begin to sink, recorded in Matthew 14:28. The sheep that strays from the fold and the watch-care of the Shepherd becomes easy prey. Planes fly in formation in aerial warfare for protection. The plane that leaves the formation becomes a "sitting duck." We must fix our mind’s and heart’s eye upon Jesus the founder and object of our faith.

Because the Galatians had lost sight of Jesus they had fallen prey or had become bewitched. They had turned from Calvary to Sinai, from Son-ship to slavery, from liberty and freedom to legalism and bondage, from faith to works, from Christ to ceremonies.

A home missionary who had outstanding success among industrial employees kept a counterfeit coin  in his pocket. Why? So that when asked about the many religions that compete for attention, he would take out his fake coin and ask why anyone would go to the trouble to make such an exact replica. The point he would drive home is this: The counterfeiter goes to the trouble to reproduce a copy of the genuine currency because the genuine currency has value. He hopes to deceive people into accepting his imitation in exchange for real money. If he can do so often enough, he stands to make considerable financial gain.

Is it not because the gospel has such power to change people’s lives that the devil offers so many alternatives? Some of these are glaringly seductive, calculated to draw people away from moral living and thus away from God. Others conceal their purpose under the guise of false faiths and philosophies that challenge the need for the Cross of Christ. Only the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, can ward off these enemies of the soul. Pray for an informed mind and loyal heart to resist the bewitchments of the devil.

In order to cause the believers to think about their salvation, Paul uses four rhetorical questions. The first, is found in verse 2. This is the only thing I want to find out from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
Law is without the definite article meaning any form of legalism, though the Mosaic Law is probably in mind. The question asked is, "Was it a result of performing law-works that you received the Spirit, or was it a result of faith-inspired listening?" The only possible answer to the question of how salvation or the Spirit is received is by trusting in Jesus Christ. The Galatians would be forced to admit that they received the Holy Spirit when they believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit is mentioned 18 times in Galatians, and is the central theme in the verification of the Gospel of Grace. The only real evidence of conversion is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
The answer to the first question in verse 2 is found in the second question in verse three. Verse 3 asks them to continue in the path of the Spirit who brought them salvation. "Are you so foolish? —or anoētoi, in the Greek, meaning not understanding—Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"

Since they were saved and received the Holy Spirit when they placed their faith in Jesus, how do they plan to grow or reach maturity in Christ? The second question affirms that since they began their lives in the power of the Spirit, therefore, they must grow in and by the Spirit’s power. They could not grow by human effort or by trying to keep the law in the power of the flesh.

We grow spiritually in Christ because of by being obedient to God’s working in and through us by His Spirit, not by following special rules. The goal of maturity is reached by the work of the Spirit within an individual not by a person’s own will power or following the law. Paul’s point is the incongruity of beginning spiritual life by the Spirit then trying to continue it some other way.

Flesh refers and the old nature, that can even be fleshly circumcised, to indicate things people do in their own power. If you begin life by the Spirit can you go on to maturity without the Spirit? By depending once again on the flesh? Since you were saved by the Spirit’s leading and regenerative power and sealed by the Spirit, and not by fleshly circumcision, then it is reasonable that we should develop from infants Christians into maturity or perfection with the Spirit. Being mature is not a measure of what we have refrained from doing but it is who we are becoming, it is a development of Christ-like character. Walk in the Spirit and you will grow in the Lord.
Christians shouldn’t stay at an "entry level" for too long. Paul rebuked the Galatians because they were still at the entry level in their spiritual lives. Their stubborn dependence on the Mosaic law kept them from growing. They had begun in the strength of the Holy Spirit but had regressed to trusting in their own good deeds rather than in Christ.
You may recall, that in I Corinthians 1-3, the believers in Corinth had a similar problem. They were quarreling, focusing on personalities and human accomplishments. They were behaving like "spiritual babies," rather that mature believers.

I am sad to say, this problem still plagues the church today. We take pride in our own efforts instead of in what Christ has done and doing for us. God isn’t impressed by our fleshly accomplishments.

We are to grow in grace and serve the Lord from a great love. Relying on the Spirit, we can live in such a way that honors Christ. It is our Father’s will, and precious in His sight, that Christians learn to walk in wisdom and light. I have found that some Christians, who should be on the front lines, are still in basic training.

The third question in verse 4 relates to the experience of the Galatians since becoming Christians. "Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?"

In other words, Paul is asking "have you experienced so much for nothing?" The verb translated suffered, or epathete, is neutral and depending on the context may refer to either a painful or good experience. It is a touching experience. Whether the lesson is unfavorable or favorable, the Lord desires everyone to profit spiritually by the events which they experience. He wants His people to use experiences to good advantage, to profit by them.

To live the Christian life trying to obey the law instead of obeying the Spirit is to make the Christian life futile or for nothing.

The apostle Paul final question in verse 5 relates back to the first one in verse 2, but to heighten the effect he changes the second person to the third and the past tense to the present. "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?"

The continuous present tense verbs gives and works both refer to God. His wondrous accomplishments always come from Him, not us. The word rendered works, in the Greek, ergōn, which is where our English word energy comes from. "Among you" could be translated in or within you. Either way, however, makes sense. Among being outward gifts such as healing, and prophesies. Or if it could indicate inward spiritual endowments such as faith, hope and love. Blessings of both kind had been bestowed by the Spirit. Had they be imparted as a result of obedience to the law or as a result of faith in Jesus Christ? 

In Closing...

The Galatians knew that they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed Christ, not when they obeyed the law. God continued to provide and work because of the application of faith in Him and His word which was accomplished by His Spirit.

People still feel insecure in their faith, because faith alone seems too easy. People try to get closer to God by following certain rituals, or rules. While certain disciplines through Bible study, prayer, worship, and service may help us grow, they must never take the place of following the Holy Spirit’s leading in us or become ends in themselves.

By asking these key questions, Paul had hoped to get the Galatians focused on Jesus again. The accumulative effect of these questions is to cause them to see their salvation came from and continues through grace by faith in Jesus. From beginning to end salvation is a matter of faith in Jesus and accomplished by God’s grace.

A picture of God’s law, strikes a signal, pointing us to the Lord’s perfect standards, but it cannot correct the wrong. The second method is a picture of God’s grace. That the law could not do, His Spirit can accomplish.

God’s law reveals sin, but it is powerless to save us from sin. It can show us

our weakness, but it cannot provide strength. It can condemn, but it cannot justify. The law commands, but it does not enable. The law kills, but grace gives life. Law is outward, grace is inward.

You can’t overcome sin and obey the Lord unless you have placed your faith in Him and have His Spirit living in you. Then remain in close fellowship with Christ. We must stay connected to the Master. 

God always enables us to do what is required of us.
May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

Copyright © 2019-2020 All Rights Reserved

The Brian Monzon Ministries



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