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Lowell Brueckner

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The World’s ABCs

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Galatians 4:1-16

V. 1-7   “I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 
2.   but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.
3.   In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 
4.  But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 
5.  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 
6.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 
7.  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. 

 Paul continues with the illustration of a child guardian. This custom among the well-to-do Romans and Greeks serves to show the purpose of the law and that of faith. It also shows that the spiritual heir belongs to the Father, even before the time, when he believes. His guardian has a part in his life, the law doing its work through him, and brings the child to see that he is a hopeless sinner. In time, he comes to a place of maturity, that is, a place of more perfect understanding, where he can enter into his inheritance.

You will notice also that the father sets the date of his “conversion” from a practicing slave into a son and heir. To understand this illustration is to understand the ways of God in bringing His own into the gospel. There is no legitimate way to misinterpret Paul’s point, in order to suit a conflicting doctrine, because he plainly states that “in the same way”, every believer goes through a similar, spiritual process.

Abraham’s Offspring

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Galatians 3:15-29

V. 15-18 “To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 
16. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.
17. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 
18. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.” 

One of the main points, which I am trying to make very clear in this Bible study, is that you cannot understand Paul's letters without being a student of the Old Testament. Some of you have heard that the New Testament is for the Christian era and the Old Testament is of less importance for us today. I want to expose that false assumption for the lie that it is, without any fear of contradiction from any noted authority of the Bible.

A question that I often put before listeners or readers is this: If the Old Testament was not meant for us, then who was it meant for? All that Abraham knew of the Scriptures was little beyond the creation, the flood and the tower of Babel. Moses knew of the governorship of Joseph in Egypt, the formation of the Hebrew nation, their deliverance from slavery and their wanderings in the wilderness. David knew nothing of the writings of the major or minor prophets and Isaiah knew none of the history of the captivity. Jeremiah never read of the return of the captives to their native land and the rebuilding of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. Ezekiel also missed out on these events, as well as the writing of the last of the prophets, such as Malachi.

Paul plainly answers my question: “They were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Co.10:11), and “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Ro.15:4). Study also these texts: Romans 4:23-24; 1 Corinthians 9:9-10; 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

The Old Testament Gospel

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Galatians 3:6-14

V. 6-9 just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"? 
 7.  Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 
 8. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." 
 9.  So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

No modern leader can, in any way, put himself in Paul’s shoes, because there is a special inerrant inspiration upon his teaching. There are no errors in the doctrine, which we will attempt to understand in this expositional study of Galatians.

Secondly, I think we have seen conclusively that no one can attempt to lead the flock of God without a thorough understanding of the entire revelation of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. We showed that Jesus required it of His disciples in Luke 24:25-27 and 44-46. No one can lay claim to these Galatian scriptures nor apply them to any situation in our times without the same understanding. Any attempt to do so is wild assumption, which cannot be taken seriously.

Foolish and Bewitched

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Galatians 3:1-6

V. 1 “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.”

The Galatians are foolish. The Amplified Version, with its characteristic thoroughness, states, “You poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians!” Please don’t think that it overstates the condition of the people. Words cannot adequately express the folly of accepting error in the face of truth, of turning to theory, where reality has been experienced, of sheep following wolves instead of the Shepherd, and believers, who prefer law over grace.

For such deception to take place, Paul recognizes something more sinister and powerful than mere human persuasion. Demons have been involved; they enjoy no greater activity than to invade the area of Christian doctrine. Paul writes to Timothy: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Ti.4:1). The Greek word, translated bewitch, means exactly that: to bring evil upon people, cast a spell, to charm.

In John 10, Jesus says that His sheep will not listen to strangers: “A stranger they will not follow… All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them” (Jn.10:5,8). I am sure that He is speaking in the same way, as He would, in reference to sin: “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning” (1 Jn.5:18). It is possible for a Christian to sin (1 Jn.2:1), but he cannot habitually practice and persist in sin. Likewise, a stranger could deceive a sheep for a while, but the Shepherd will intervene, before the sheep is irremediably wounded. However, for deception to have reached the high level, as is evident in Galatia, it certainly proves that there are a good share of unconverted, carnal goats among the sheep.

Positiveness... a Modern Heresy

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A little lesson about positive thinking, positive speaking, and positive confession:

Many years ago, I came into a house, in which an old man was outside his senses. The old man had been prayed for and his son had been told that whatever the symptoms might be, he was to confess that his father was healed. Obviously, it would be inconsistent that a "healed" man should take medicine, so the son had discontinued his doses. 

I got the old man into a car and rushed him to the emergency entrance at the nearest hospital, where he was given insulin and soon his mind began to function as it should. The attending doctor gave his son and I (although I was not the guilty party) a heated scolding. 

Well, my friend, that was enough to teach me that "positive confession" is not only a minor error, but a dangerous weapon that can kill! It is supposed to promote faith, but in truth, it kills faith. I have talked to people, who are broken-hearted, because they did not have enough faith to see their loved ones healed. They would say that they had done everything that they were told to do, and yet there was no improvement. I talked to a family that was totally unprepared for the death of the wife/mother, because they were taught that "by faith, she is healed".