The promise of the Spirit is given by faith, not works
We are going to look at Galatians today, to again see examples of our union, fellowship and ongoing cooperation we have with the Holy Spirit.
The name Holy Spirit offers a glimpse into His nature – that of being other than the evil in the world. It also defines part of His inward work in us – to form Christ in us and thereby make us holy.
Galatians introduces some thoughts which are a powerful reminder of this and we will likely get there today anyway, but I want to begin with a statement that doesn’t show up until chapter 3 and with a quote from Augustine.
“(2) The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? (3) Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort? (4) Have you suffered so many things for nothing? – if indeed it was for nothing. (5) Does God then give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard?…(14b) …in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.”
Receiving the Spirit was part of the promise given to us in the Old Testament – that Spirit is the One Who makes us ready to be a habitation for God forever and His work begins and ends in koinonia – fellowship with us!
Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” I think that statement beautifully captures where we are directing our focus this morning.
Let’s just start off with Galatians 1:1…
Galatians 1:1-24, “(1) From Paul, an apostle (not from men, nor by human agency, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father Who raised him from the dead) (2) and all the brothers with me, to the churches of Galatia.”
As we learned when we were going through Acts, Paul visited Galatia with Luke, Silas and Timothy after he and Barnabus had decided to go separate ways.
“(3) Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, (4) Who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, (5) to Whom be glory forever and ever! Amen.”
“(6) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One Who called you by the grace of Christ and are following a different gospel – (7) not that there really is another gospel, but there are some who are disturbing you and wanting to distort the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be condemned to hell! (9) As we have said before, and now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let him be condemned to hell!
(10) Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ!”
Reasons to believe Paul’s testimony of the Gospel…
“(11) Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. (12) For I did not receive it or learn it from any human source; instead I received it by a revelation of Jesus Christ.
(13) For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I was savagely persecuting the church of God and trying to destroy it.
(14) I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my nation, and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.
(15) But when [God] the One Who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace was pleased (16) to reveal His Son in me SO THAT I COULD preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not go to ask advice from any human being, (17) nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me, but right away I departed to Arabia, and then returned to Damascus. (18) Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and get information from him, and I stayed with him fifteen days. (19) But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (20) I assure you that, before God, I am not lying about what I am writing to you!”
Notice that the prerequisite of Paul being able to preach to the Gentiles was Christ being revealed in Him.
“(21) Afterward I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. (22) But I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. (23) They were only hearing,
“The one who once persecuted us is now proclaiming the good news of the faith he once tried to destroy.”
(24) So they glorified God because of me.”
The NET says “because of me” instead of “in me” to emphasize that the phrase was causal. Meaning, what caused them to glorify God was what He had done and was doing in Paul. So in either case – it still means that these Christians glorified God as He was revealed in the changed life of Paul. This is consistent with his former statement, “(15) But when the One Who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace was pleased (16) to reveal His Son in me so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles”
“(1) Then after fourteen years I went up to Jerusalem again with Barnabas, taking Titus along too.
(2) I went there because of a revelation and presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles.
But I did so only in a private meeting with the influential people, to make sure that I was not running – or had not run – in vain.
(3) Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, although he was a Greek.
(4) Now this matter arose because of the false brothers with false pretenses who slipped in unnoticed to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, to make us slaves.
(5) But we did not surrender to them even for a moment, in order that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.
(6) But from those who were influential (whatever they were makes no difference to me; God shows no favoritism between people) – those influential leaders added nothing to my message.”
“added nothing” This is the same word translated “go to ask advice from” in Gal. 1:16, but it has a different meaning here. It essentially means that when he presented the revelation he had received from Jesus Himself, that the Gentiles were justified, made righteous and received the promise of the Spirit BY FAITH apart from the works of the law – those leaders in Jerusalem did not offer any contrary advice (See Acts 15) nor in any way add anything to the message he had received from Jesus – thus affirming the point Paul was attempting to make here to these wavering believers about the credibility of his Gospel in that he did not receive this message from man – but from God!
“(7) On the contrary, when they saw that I was entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised just as Peter was entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (8) (for He Who empowered Peter for his apostleship to the circumcised also empowered me for my apostleship to the Gentiles) (9) and when James, Cephas, and John, who had a reputation as pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we would go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. (10) They requested only that we remember the poor, the very thing I also was eager to do.”
The phrase, “the right hand of fellowship” is a beautiful notion and is just dripping with Co-partnership in kingdom work IN agreement and submission to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
It means they offered Paul and Barnabus the pledge of communion.
“(11) But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he had clearly done wrong.
(12) Until certain people came from James, he had been eating with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself because he was afraid of those who were pro-circumcision.
(13) And the rest of the Jews also joined with him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray with them by their hypocrisy.
(14) But when I saw that they were not behaving consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all,
“If you, although you are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you try to force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
(15) We are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, (16) yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, SO THAT we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”
Apart from the new birth, union with Christ and the inward work of the Holy Spirit > initial salvation and ongoing righteousness in the life would be impossible!