< Galatians 1:1-24 >
�Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother�s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord�s brother. (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.)
Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. But they were hearing only, �He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.?And they glorified God in me.?/b>
The number of visitors to our website continues to increase. On average, we have more than 4,000 visitors a day, and we expect this number to increase into the near future. Lately, we have had visitors not just from the English-speaking world, but people speaking different languages from all over the world, including Third World countries from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. So I am that much more thankful to God. Although there were a few disappointments from time to time, I am still rejoiced to see how God has born the fruit of evangelism and blessed us.
Also, new books designed to nurture our fellow believers continue to be published. Now, the sermon series on Genesis is about to be updated in its e-book format, but I hope that even more books will be published soon. I believe that we will then get nearer and nearer to the day when people all over the world find the gospel of the water and the Spirit through our website.
The Purpose for Which Paul Wrote This Epistle
Paul sent his epistle to the saints in the region of Galatia in order to correct their faith. It this epistle, Paul wrote about his faith, describing what kind of faith it was.
In Galatians 1:1, he wrote, �Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead),?/i> and down below in verse 12, he wrote, �For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.?/i>
The Apostle Paul wrote this epistle to warn against the teachings of the circumcisionists, who had thrown the churches of Galatia into confusion at that time. Instead of believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the gospel preached by the Apostle Paul, the circumcisionists considered something else—that is, physical circumcision—to be more important than the real gospel. In other words, there were some people in the churches of Galatia teaching that the believers could become God�s people not by their faith in the baptism of Jesus Christ and His blood on the Cross, but by keeping the Law of God and receiving physical circumcision.
That is why the Apostle Paul said, �I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel?(Galatians 1:6). And he then rebuked the circumcisionists?schemes, saying, �Which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.?/i>
There could be no other gospel in this world other than the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit. Yet despite this, the Galatian Christians preferred physical circumcision and were more fond of it. It can therefore be concluded that they had followed the lust of their flesh with their legalistic faith.
The Apostle Paul was so enraged at the legalists that he said to them, �But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed?(Galatians 1:8). First of all, we need to realize here what exactly was the content of the gospel preached by the legalists that it compelled the Apostle Paul to say that if anyone preached �any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.?nbsp;
The most terrifying words to hear in this world is the damnation to be cursed by God, and it was such damning words that the Galatian saints heard from Paul. The reason for this is because they had forsaken the gospel of the water and the Spirit to lay far greater emphasis on physical circumcision. That is why Paul�s heart was inevitably aroused to righteous anger.
The �other gospel?here does not mean that there is another gospel apart from the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but it refers to a false gospel claiming that we can become God�s people only if we keep the Law. In other words, the other gospel was demanding a legalistic faith from the Galatian saints.
What, then, was this legalistic faith before God? It was one that stressed the importance of the Sabbath and also demanded physical circumcision. As a result, the saints of the churches of Galatia came to emphasize their legalistic faith more than their faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. �If you want to believe in Jesus and be saved, you must also be circumcised in your flesh just like any Abraham�s descendants, keep the Sabbath, and live according to the Law. And you must not eat any animal that does not have cloven hooves, nor should you eat any animal that was hung to death, nor can you eat any animal that died of natural causes, but you must eat every food discriminatingly according to the statutes of the Law.?It was this kind of useless belief that they were advocating.
In reality, if you and I were to turn away from the gospel of the water and the Spirit to live a legalistic life of faith, then we would also be accursed by God. Can we become God�s children through our legalistic faith? No, even for us, who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if we end up relapsing back to the legalistic life of faith, then we would also die spiritually.
Does this then mean that it is wrong to be so zealous to keep the Law? One should be eager to know the real Truth and to serve this Truth; if one is devoted to just about anything without even knowing the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, then this itself is practicing even more wickedness.
No legalistic faith can ever be approved by God. Those who have such faith interpret the Bible literally—for instance, where the Word commands us not to work on the Sabbath, they believe this by the letter, and so they don�t even cook from the sunset on Friday to the sunset on Saturday, eating what they had already prepared instead. They don�t even travel on the Sabbath, since according to the Law, they are not supposed to step outside home beyond a few steps. In doing so, they take their strict obedience to the Law as their own righteousness. Such an attempt to establish their own rightfulness by faithfully keeping not only the Law, but even the traditions passed down orally from their ancestors, is to live a life of faith that rejects the blessings of the God-given grace, and instead piles up God�s wrath on their own heads.
A representative gathering that tries to keep the Law literally is the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Adventists always raise the issue of when the Sabbath is at first. They argue that the Sabbath is from the sunset on Friday to the sunset on Saturday, and that one must keep the specific day and hours exactly. Also, since no one is supposed to work on the Sabbath, it�s said that they had a big argument amongst themselves over whether or not they should turn on the light during their worship hour on the Sabbath. That�s because there were some people who argued that turning on the light was indirectly responsible for making the power plant�s employees work, and so they shouldn�t turn on the light during the worship service. If this is the case, then they would have to use no electricity whatsoever even at home, and for tap water as well, they would have to use what they had stored beforehand. It�s completely laughable.
Faith in the real Truth is not a legalistic faith, but is one that believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Yet many Christian denominations do not realize this. That is why their followers are so much more zealous to keep the Law. But still, even now, they must believe with their hearts that the Son of God has perfectly saved them from their sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. They must believe in God the Father, they must believe in the salvation of love coming through His Son, and they must thereby receive God�s blessings and glorify Him.
The Reason Why God Gave Us the Law of Justice
My fellow believers, why did God give us the Law? God gave us the Law so that we would realize and know our sins (Romans 3:19-20). For these Galatian saints, however, it wasn�t enough to just keep the Law in everyday life, but they taught that anyone who wants to be one of God�s people must be physically circumcised. When people came to the Galatian churches to believe in Jesus as the Savior, they were taught that they had to be physically circumcised first.
These false prophets ruthlessly denounced any believers who were not physically circumcised, arguing that they could not become God�s people unless they were physically circumcised. They rebuked the new believers, saying, �God commanded all the people of Abraham to be circumcised. So how can you refuse to be circumcised, just because you believe in Jesus? Are you then greater than Abraham?? So given this, it was inevitable that the faith of the Galatian saints would be spiritually corrupted. As a result, they eventually came to assign more importance to another gospel insisting on the necessity of circumcision, and so now it became meaningless to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, even though they had believed in this true gospel at first.
Is it then really only when we keep the Law of God that we are saved from all our sins to become God�s people? There are 613 commandments and statutes in the Law of God. In fact, the Jewish people have not only these 613 statutes of the Law, but they also have thousands of traditional commandments passed down from their ancestors. But can anyone really keep all these statutes? No, no one can ever live by the Law. Mankind is absolutely incapable of keeping the Law. That is why the Bible says, �If there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law?(Galatians 3:21). Therefore, the fact that the believers of the Galatian churches were quarrelling over the issue of whether one should be physically circumcised or not is the very evidence of the fact that they were now no longer following the Truth. So you can imagine just what was going on in the churches of Galatia.
The Apostle Paul felt the acute need to reestablish the faith of the Galatian saints on the Word of Truth. So, to remind them of his faith he had delivered to them, Paul said, �Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)?(Galatians 1:1). Paul said here that the gospel he believed in was not from men. Indeed, this gospel was not through man, but it was the gospel of the water and the Spirit that came from the Lord.
The gospel believed and preached by the Apostle Paul was not learnt from man. John 1:17 says, �For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.?/i> Through whom was the Law given to us? God spoke it to Moses and Moses relayed it to the people of Israel. This Law of God was given so that people would realize and know their sins (Romans 3:19-20).
Grace and truth, on the other hand, came through Jesus Christ. The grace of God here means His gift, indicating that the Truth of real salvation was given to us as a gift through Jesus Christ. That is why the Apostle Paul said, �The gospel which I preached to you was not learnt from man, nor did it come through man, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.?Paul made it clear here that it was because Jesus had shown it to him and spoke it to him that he knew and believed in this gospel. In other words, Paul received the remission of all his sins by believing that Jesus Christ had saved him by being baptized for him, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead again.
Paul therefore admonished the Galatian saints earnestly, saying, �That is why I preach the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit to people. Why, then, are you preaching a gospel different from the gospel of the water and the Spirit preached by me? Do you realize what a fallacious teaching it is to say that one is saved from sin only if he both believes in Jesus and keeps the Law as well? Why are you preaching a different gospel other than the gospel of the water and the Spirit? You will then be cursed by God. You should never preach any other gospel.?Paul said this because he had so much pity for the Galatian believers, as they were heading straight to hell by themselves.
Even for those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, if they fall into a legalistic faith, then they will also perish away spiritually. There is no exception here. Do you think there is any other cause for the spiritual death of a Christian? One will perish for sure when he tries to be saved by believing in another teaching apart from the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Nothing is complicated here. If one emphasizes the Law and leans toward legalism, then this itself is to believe in another gospel, and its end is death.
There is no other gospel in this world. The true gospel is the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and there cannot be any other gospel. All other gospels other than the gospel of the water and the Spirit, on the other hand, are teachings that invariably require the acts of mankind as a condition of salvation. Is this how you believe: �Although I have received the remission of my sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I still have to keep the Law, and I also have to try hard not to commit sin. If I sin by any chance, then I have to wash it away through my prayers of repentance? None other than this belief is to believe in another gospel. Everyone who believes like this will face his spiritual death without exception.
If indeed we have to keep all the Law, then we would also have to practice Passover rituals. Once every year, we would have to kill a lamb and put its blood on the lintel of the door. And every time we sin, we would have to give sin offerings, and we would also have to eat only what is allowed by the statutes of the Law. Yet these are only the tip of the iceberg; there are far many more statues that we would have to keep. So given this, how could we possibly keep all these requirements? It�s impossible, and that is precisely why the Lord said, �For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ?(John 1:17).
The Apostle Paul said that his gospel was �not from men nor through man.?In other words, Paul was saying: �My gospel is neither from men nor through man. It is not by keeping the Law given by Moses that I have been saved. If I could have attained my salvation just by keeping this Law, then I would have achieved it all long ago. My forefathers received the Law given by Moses, and I myself was originally a legalist. And I was thoroughly trained under Gamaliel, a great scholar of the Law. So judged on this merit alone, would your knowledge of the Law be even comparable to mine? Yet it is not by keeping the Law that I have become a righteous man. It is by meeting Jesus Christ, and by believing that He has saved me through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, that I have reached my salvation. And I have preached this to you. So you must not fall into a legalistic life of faith, or otherwise you will be cursed by God.?This is what the Apostle Paul was saying.
The gospel of the water and the Spirit is the gospel that Paul believed in. Paul confessed his faith by saying, �I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me?(Galatians 2:20). How was he able to be crucified with Christ? He could be crucified with Jesus because he had united with Him by believing in His baptism. As such, the death of Jesus on the Cross essentially means the death of your sinful selves and my sinful self.
By being baptized, Jesus shouldered your sins and mine; by being crucified and shedding His blood to death, He bore all the condemnation of our sins; and by rising from the dead again, He has given us new life. Then how fallacious is it to say that despite all this, it�s not enough to believe in Jesus Christ who has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but we have to keep the Law, receive physical circumcision, and faithfully keep the Sabbath? We would end up becoming just like the Christians of Galatian churches, who had thrown away the gospel of the water and the Spirit and tried to be perfect before God on their own.
The same principle applies to our faith today. We, too, are remitted from all our sins and reach our salvation by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. There is nothing else for us to do but only believe in this gospel of Truth and be grateful for it. And once we receive the remission of our sins, we are to carry out all our tasks by faith as God�s instruments to preach this gospel that He has given us thankfully. In other words, we do not try to keep the Law to attain our salvation any more. Rather, we are now leading our lives of faith united with the Church to defend this gospel Word of Truth and preach it to others by faith, since we have already been saved by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Is the gospel of the water and the Spirit somehow imperfect that you would seek to compliment it by keeping the Law? No, anyone who tries to be more perfect superficially is clearly someone who has not been born again yet, and who is still under the curse.
How about today�s Christians then? Even though they believe that Jesus has saved them through His blood on the Cross, they still claim that they have to give their prayers of repentance diligently to be sanctified. This very notion that one has to be diligent with something on his own in order to be saved is nothing else but a legalistic faith. They say that one has to stay up all night praying, offer prayers in some remote mountains, and fast while praying.
But does God not answer us unless we fast and pray? Does He not hear us unless we stay up all night praying? If indeed one is saved from sin only by keeping all the Law and living a holy life, who could possibly be saved from his sins? No one, not even a single person, can ever be saved in this way. The only way to reach salvation is to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit; there is absolutely no other way. Grace and Truth came from Jesus Christ. That is why our lives of faith must also be led by trusting in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must lead our lives of faith by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, by our faith in God�s Word of Truth.
The churches in Galatia were spiritually confused, plagued by spiritual scoundrels gathered there. Do you think that God�s Church is completely devoid of any spiritual swindlers? No, even God�s Church has rascals. Mistakenly thinking that salvation was attained by keeping the Law, the scoundrels at the Galatian churches came to teach that one must be physically circumcised in addition to his faith in the gospel. The Apostle Paul had gone through great sufferings to preach the gospel to them, and yet even after they accepted the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they betrayed him treacherously by accepting and preaching a different gospel, arguing that they must keep the Law.
Grace and Truth Came through Jesus Christ
Jesus has saved you and me from sin through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He has blotted out our sins and given us the gift of salvation. That He has saved us by coming to this earth, being baptized, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead is the indisputable Truth. It is absolutely not a lie. There is not other law of salvation but this law, that Jesus Christ has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
No human being can ever save another human being from his sins. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and God Himself. Because it is God Himself who has saved us by becoming a creature for a while, all the works He fulfilled is perfect. To dismiss today the divinity of Jesus and say that He is just a Son of Man is a claim espoused by spiritual scoundrels. That�s because no man can save another man from all his sins.
Through this Word of Galatians, we should know what the true gospel is, and we should live according to it. Only the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the real Truth, and apart from following it by faith, anything else that emphasizes one�s own good deeds or the Law is lawlessness. To believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, serve the gospel, and live for this gospel is to do what is right. Unless we live for the gospel of the water and the Spirit, our lives would be meaningless and worthless.
Only when we believe in and follow the gospel of the water and the Spirit with our hearts can we continue to receive God�s love and blessings. No matter how virtuous we might be in our deeds, if our hearts have no faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then it is all over for us. God loves those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with their hearts, and who live their lives according to it. Through Galatians chapter one, we were able to see just how precious the gospel is, and how accursed legalistic faith is.
Many people fall into legalistic faith precisely because they do not believe in the true gospel with their hearts, but unlike them, you have to set your hearts?determination steadfast by placing your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. You must believe that legalistic faith will ultimately bring only curses.
I thank the Lord for His grace that has allowed us to live blessed lives, with our hearts immersed in God�s true gospel.