Galatians 3 -

January 29, 2006

This body is one continuing the Basic Christian Testimony of
the Presbyterian Church of Australia by its Constitution of 1901

in entire subjection to the Bible and the Lord whose it is, without added -isms or ideas



We have pondered already Galatians 1-2, and now before we proceed, let us review the end of Galatians 2 so that we feel the flow into Galatians 3 with its ardent and clamant chiding: WHO HAS BEWITCHED YOU!

In this Chapter 3, Paul is expostulating, exhorting, denouncing, announcing, doing the full work of the ministry with a church body in peril of being misaligned, as indeed happened in the Presbyterian Church of Australia, sadly, when first it fell prey to the Liberals, from around 1935-1974, and then to the forbidden realm of theological ism-itis, or  creedal traditionalism. In 1991,  it was to be found virtually deleting the passage on the love of God in the Declaratory Statement, by suggesting it adds nothing to the Westminster Confession, whereas that Statement was added for tender consciences, not for fun or for nothing and contains what is nowhere stated or necessarily implied in the Confession.

With its female elders, and its Confessionalism, the latter as seen in the World Reformed Fellowship, which simply binds Bible and Confession alike, and its own approach (cf. The Biblical Workman Ch.  8, incl. pp. 125ff., and End-note 2 ), it alas appears to lurch from the Sadducaic  for much of the last century, to what reminds one of the Pharisaic; but whatever the case, it was in the first, a grand church, and one can hope it may be restored to its constitutional strength with BIBLE ALONE as ultimate government in all doctrine, without equivocation or implication of legalistic, legislative or uncertain character. Man and God do not mix well in speech; and the best of man's utterances must bow in all things to the least of those of the Lord, as is fitting for all that is finite, before the infinite wisdom of the everlasting God.

Alas the BIBLE PLUS the culture of man in gender ideas, in confessional ideas, in ecumenical alignment, in catastrophic suppression of the Biblical and constitutional insistence on the scope of the love of God in its grandeur and immensity, becomes a new act. In this way,  the BIBLE MINUS, which was the old one of direct assault on the Bible, is now supplanted, while the excellent work of the earlier fathers languishes. This provides an illustration of the theme we now face in Galatians, to move from soundness in Christ and His word, and obedience to it,  to SOMETHING MORE!

Since action of this type was found in its own way in the Church of the Galatians, HOW the apostle Paul graciously, but vehemently challenged them! He became like a concerned doctor appealing to a man once delivered from lung cancer but now smoking, beginning once more to suck the tar-conveying menace into the only lungs he possesses, as if himself possessed.


I The History of the Case

Certainly, the additive frame of mind, with a corresponding loss, was in another sphere, in Galatia. WHAT was to be done with the Old Testament symbols, now that the New had come: that was the question.

It was NOT necessary to have Jewish culture and the symbolism of the Old Covenant, as such, in order to be a Christian. It WAS however necessary to have what the symbols showed! and
that ? it was Christ.

To be sure, HE required one to believe that every jot and tittle of the Old Testament would be FULFILLED, and NOTHING was to be abrogated or rescinded, no part too small or inconvenient to honour; but the vast matrix and whole scope of salvation, Christ DID fulfil. While  the rest of the historical coverage awaited the culmination of the times, all in the whole Age who by faith came to Him, were already covered for sin and power and peace, in His atonement (Romans 5:1,Heb.10:10-14). This culmination we are now ourselves seeing in that grand sweep of prophetic precision which has been opened from the Book of the Lord in the book of history in our very own generation, in this respect, one of the most blessed ever to be found! Yet as to salvation, its task is complete (cf. Heb. 9:12).

Paul pressed the point of the exercise personally. He exhibited to them that they were not merely to theologise with bits of this or that to put here or there: in Christ they DIED, conveyed and conveyanced by the LAW to a due death, from which  life resumed, rescued in Him. With Him, in judgment they went to the gallows, while in resurrection He gave them back life, representative as well as substitute: and this time, the life was permanent,  IN GOD. Thus faith is not some feeble flame you try to conserve; it is a fire lit by God, to whose hearth in Christ you have come (John 5:24, 4:14, 10:9,27-28). Crucified WITH Christ, you live BY HIM (Galatians 2:20), faith the very atmosphere of the relationship, permanently sealed as in Ephesians 1, which speaks of being sealed BY THE SPIRIT, inheritance secure (Ephesians 1:11,13).  


II The Nature of the Case  3:1-5

Now in application, Paul remonstrates with them. How mad can you be, spiritually! Christ placarded as their peace, power and pardon, they yet turn as if bent on earning their spiritual place by works, as well! Were they filled with the Spirit at the start, then, by their performance merits for keeping the works of the law ? If the Spirit started it, does flesh end it ?

If they suffered so much for fidelity Christ, seeking to serve Him as Lord, are they now to vaporise it all ? Were the miracles of divine power which ushered in their faith, if it be faith, ushered in by the works of the law, or by the 'hearing of faith'! To ask is to answer.


III The Test of the Case  3:6-8

Do they even forget the law and the prophets ? Was not Abraham justified by faith, for it is written, Abraham BELIEVED God and it was ACCOUNTED to him or righteousness! Later sacrifices of faith were fruit, not root: the settlement was from the START. it began with an ESTABLISHMENT of life by FAITH in Christ alone, faith the conveyer of the merits of Calvary.


IV The Testimony of the Case  3:9-14

Law keeping ? it is a mode, not a salvation; it is obedience, not attainment, an expression not an impression, its basis rather an X-ray of one's sin than a cause of self-congratulation. Steeped in sacrifice, the pardon is always by grace; for the just shall live by faith as Habakkuk in 2:4 declares, trusting in God in the very midst of a flood of evil in the land, with joy awaiting the assured outcome of Godís impact and imprint on the world which He made,  because the pardon and power of God is there. Covenantally conveyed, it cannot fail when tests concluded, history on this earth is shut like a book. It was for THAT reason that Habakkuk received his reassurance, being shown that when all seemed to fail, faith yet prevailed, for God has and gives the answer, conveyed now to the heart, with the conclusion to complete all judgment awaited in its Day (Hab. 3); just as now the grace is granted to faith,  in many, and prevails forever.

And it IS complete now (Colossians 2:10, Ephesians 1:6,13), in the atonement of Christ, who has redeemed us from the curse of the law, making of each one received, an heir according to the promise (Galatians 3:29). Thus the blessedness Abraham enjoyed is now come to the Gentiles, the Spirit freely poured out on the hearts of the redeemed, whose destiny, like that of Abraham, is ever blessed, the promise of international blessing through him, fulfilled, the Spirit of God the donation to the disciples in whom His faith reposes, in interminable blessedness.