Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14
Vol. 12, No. 8 Straight and Narrow August 2003
or Who’s Your Partner
(The following article is an edited version of the opening night message given at the 2003 West Virginia camp meeting by Allen Stump)
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)
Created for Fellowship
The Bible tells us that God created man in His own image; not only physically, but morally and upright. Many of the characteristics of humanity are characteristics of God. One of those characteristics is emotions (feelings). We can know joy, peace, love and happiness because God experiences these same feelings. God made man originally in His image to enjoy those blessings.
Although God originally made Adam alone as a unique individual, it was not His intension that man would inherently be a hermit. Rather, God created Adam to be like Himself, a social individual. We enjoy fellowship and like to associate with others. We appreciate their association.
Revelation 4:9-11states, “And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Not just humanity, but all things were created for the glory and power and pleasure of God. What kind of pleasure were we created for? Was it a simple selfish pleasure? Did He create us to be his toys, as a child would play with toy soldiers? Did He create us to dangle from a rope over a hot fire as a sadist would a small animal or insect? Of course, the answer is no! He didn’t create toys or robots. God gave man a free will. God created man as an individual that could think, move, interact, and respond with Him.
In some respects, God could have made man like a dog or a cat. I have a dog named Princess, who is getting old and hasn’t followed the health reform like she should, so she’s over weight right now and moves pretty slowly. She may be my all-time favorite pet. I love her and she’s capable of showing me love in return . She will lick my hand and sit at my feet. She’s capable of expressing emotions, and God could have made us like that, friends, but that wasn’t good enough for God. God could have made man like the angels, beings who possess superior, superhuman powers of strength and intellect beyond our understanding. One angel destroyed 185,000 soldiers in one night. Not even the mighty Sampson could ever make such a boast. But you know, He didn’t make us like the angels; that wasn’t good enough for God.
Before any creation ever happened God already had an associate. Someone who could fully enter into His plans and purposes. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) There was someone who was with God, who was also divine, who had been with Him and pre-existed, if you please, from dateless ages. There was never a time when the Word was not in close fellowship with God. And yet, there was still a void. There was still a longing that went beyond even the love that He could find and express to His only begotten Son, and so God created man.
The Bible says God created man in His own image, and, according to Isaiah 43:7, for His own glory. Man was created on the sixth day of creation week. So, the next day, the first full day that Adam, and his wife Eve, had together with God, was what we know as the Sabbath day. It was actually the first full day of Adam’s existence. Genesis 2:1-3 says: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
God didn’t institute the Sabbath at the end of the sixth day. He rested that seventh day with man and because of that rest, and that special experience, the Bible says He sanctified that day and He set it apart. God had such a wonderful experience that He wanted to repeat it with mankind over and over again. This is verified in Exodus 31:16,17. “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” God, the great God of heaven, the creator of all the universe, was refreshed by this experience He had with this man and this women, the same experience that He had on that very first Sabbath, beloved, He wants to recreate in each and every one of us. He wants to have that experience with us every Sabbath and even every day.
The Bible says that God was refreshed. He didn’t need to be refreshed from labor because He was not tired. He was refreshed by the experience of the fellowship He had with Adam and Eve. Guess what? Adam and Eve weren’t tired either. This was the first full day of their existence; they were not physical tired. Perhaps you know some Sabbath–keepers who sleep and rest most every Sabbath afternoon. Perhaps you are one of them. Friends, may I say if we were as temperate as we should be and live the counsels that we’ve been given, we would seldom need the Sabbath for physical rest. We’re supposed to be in special communion with our God on that special day, and that fellowship is too important to miss because we’re intemperate.
Friends, God wants to fellowship with us, and as we fellowship with Him, we will reflect His character, bringing joy to us and honor, glory, and joy to Him. Another word for fellowship is communion. If you look at the words translated fellowship in the Bible, you will sometimes find them also translated communion, or partnership, or partner. Fellowship is based on a mutual walk and a mutual mind.
When I was in the second grade, my good friend, Allen Terrel, and I cae in third place in the three-legged race at the school fair for our age group, earning a white ribbon. The next year we came in second place and got a red ribbon. The next year I transferred to another school, so we didn’t get to participate. I’m sorry for that. I had hoped that we would finally get the blue ribbon. When you’re running a three-legged race, you have to stay together, and if one walks in one direction and the other walks in another direction, then you don’t do very well. Amos 3:3 says: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” We can’t walk with God if we’re not in agreement with Him. He is a holy God, and the Bible says we are to be holy because He is holy (1 Peter 1:15) and He wants us to have that fellowship with Him.
the Father and Son
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:1-3)
John says “truly,” our fellowship is with God and Christ. “Truly” means sincerely, genuinely, truthfully, indeed. John says “truly,” for sure our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son. In First Corinthians 1:9, the apostle Paul says we’ve been called into this fellowship. It’s just not something that comes by accident. God has specifically, friends, called you, invited you, to come into fellowship with Him and with His Son.
In John 14:23 Jesus said: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Notice that Jesus is speaking of two individuals that will make their abode with us. He speaks of the Father and Himself. He uses the terms “we” and “our.” Notice the condition of the promise. It’s based on love. “If a man love me”. . . “he will keep my words.” Friends, the test of love is not what we say. The test of love is not what we profess. The test of love is doing God’s will. He said if you love Him, you will do His will.
“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” (1 John 1:4-6) If we love Him, we’ll do His will, won’t we? We’ll do what He asks us because we love Him and we want to do it. We’re happy to do it! However, the text says that if we walk in darkness it’s because we don’t love Him. There is no darkness in God at all. Walking in the light means to have the mind, the character, and the personality of God. It means we’re partaking of His Spirit. There was one that had that opportunity, perhaps more intimately then any other being in the universe, and his name was Lucifer. In fact, that name meant light-bearer. Sadly, he failed to continue to partake of that spirit and to walk in that truth. The Bible says that he became a devil and he was cast out of heaven. (Isaiah 14:12) He ceased to have fellowship with God.
Praying to His Father, the night of that last Passover, Jesus said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) What does it mean to know God? If I mentioned George W. Bush, most of us would instantly recognize him as the President of the United States of America. We could read a lot about him. We could get all the statistics, the facts and the figures, about George W. Bush. We would know where and when he was born, what schools he went to, whom he married, and all those things. I could know a lot about him. But knowing about someone is not the same thing as knowing someone! I could know all about George W. Bush, but I don’t know him and I assure you he doesn’t know me either. But the Bible says we can personally know our God. It will not suffice in the judgment to know about God. We’re going to have to know God. We’re going to have to have fellowship with Him, communion with Him. We’re going to become a partner with God. We’re going to be God’s friend. The Bible says we can be God’s friend and, in fact, we have been invited to have this fellowship. Isn’t that great? If I could go to the White House today to request an interview with George W. Bush, I would not even get close to the White House with the security that is there, let alone get through. But, even if I got through, he probably would look at his schedule and say that he was a very busy man, in fact, too busy to meet with someone like me. But, friends, God is not too busy! Our God is such a great God. He has all the time in the world. Busy as He is, and with as much as He has to do, He has all the time in the world to meet with you. Isn’t that wonderful? And even greater, He wants to! He says I want you to come to me. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
We must know our God. God wanted to know Adam and Eve very intimately. But was there something, I ask you, that God didn’t know about them all ready? He created them. He knew everything about them, and us as well. When we fellowship with God, it’s not necessarily so that He can know us better; He already knows us inside and outside. God wants to experience us and He wants us to know and experience Him. The Bible says we have fellowship with Him and with His Son, and that’s what I want. I want that intimate fellowship with God and His Son.
This fellowship with God is a wonderful experience, but I want to caution you because this fellowship sometimes involves challenges as well.
I would dare say that there have been few men who have ever walked the sod of this planet who loved Jesus Christ and loved God more then the apostle Paul. He had a tremendously close fellowship, communion with God. He was a partner with God and Christ, so obviously Paul had a very easy life, right? No! Paul didn’t have a very easy life as far as the way we would look at it in our eyes. Paul had a very challenging life and a very challenging experience. If you read through the third chapter of Philippians, he tells you some of the things he went through to gain Christ. He tells us here in Philippians 3: 10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Paul spoke of receiving “stripes above measure,” being “stoned,” suffering “shipwreck,” being “hungry and thirsty”, and “cold,” etc., for Christ. You mean as Christians, having fellowship with this all powerful, all mighty God, this God that controls everything, this God that can create vast universes by just speaking one word, He’s going to allow me to suffer with Him? That’s what the Bible says. “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:5) Yet as our sufferings abound, so also does our consolation.
Beloved, this clay, this piece of dust that we are, is pretty rough. But the Master Potter is very wise and He knows just exactly what this clay needs to be perfected. In His mercy and love, He allows us to partake with Him in sufferings, trials, and tribulations. Yet, friends, this is only for our good. The Bible says that if we suffer with Him, we’ll also reign with Him. (2 Timothy 2:12)
I want to challenge you to set your priorities for the rest of your life. Set your priorities for the time you’re going to spend with God, because you’re not going to have the opportunity to fellowship, commune with Him, become His partner, if you don’t talk to Him some; if you don’t listen to Him some; and if you don’t spend time and be with Him some. If you are too busy to take time to be with God, then you need to rearrange your schedule, friends, because that’s the most important priority you have.
Genesis 2: 18 states, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” It’s not good that man’s alone. This challenges me and it may challenge you. How did God originally make Adam? How many flaws did Adam have that needed polished and smoothed out? There wasn’t a single flaw in Adam; he was perfect. A perfect God creating a perfect man and they’re going to have great fellowship, but God, in His love, knows it’s not enough for man. He says it’s not good for man to be alone, even though I’m going to be with him, even though my Son will be, even though the holy angels will be with him, it is not enough. Despite all the beautiful animals God created, the majestic giraffe with his tall neck, the strong elephant, the bold lion, it wouldn’t be enough. A beautiful dog, as his faithful companion, would not be enough. “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:21-23) God has now created a perfect helpmate for Adam, someone else to have special fellowship with.
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3) It says we can truly have fellowship not only with the Father and Son, but also with each other, with believers. Our fellowship with other believers is based primarily, first and foremost, friends upon our fellowship with God and with Christ. Verse 7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” As we walk in the light, we walk and fellowship with Jesus (John 8:12). How many times have many of us met other people through a friend? We’ve had a common friend and they say, “oh here’s someone I want you to meet and you’re really going to like this person.” There are common bonds between these people and these common bonds draw them together.
I think back to the story of David and Jonathan. In first Samuel 18:1-4 it reads: “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.” David and Jonathan had a tight bond and love for each other because they dearly loved the same God. Jonathan’s heart was knit with David’s heart because it was already knit with God’s. You read what Jonathan did with his armor bearer (1 Samuel 14), how could he do that except that he was with God and God was with him. God was with David and it says Jonathan loved David’s soul as his own. When Jonathan died on the battlefield, David in mourning him said: “I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26) These were men that had a close-knit relationship because they were so close to God. The basis, friends, of our fellowship and our walk is that we walk with God. We can’t have the proper fellowship with each other unless we’re fellowshipping with God first.
We’re to fellowship with God and Christ. We’re to fellowship with one another, but the Bible speaks about something we shouldn’t fellowship with. 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15 states, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Inspiration contrasts believers with unbelievers; light with darkness. The word translated “communion” here is the same Greek word translated “fellowship.” So, he could have said what fellowship does light have with darkness? What communion does the believer have with the unbeliever?
Pistis (pistis) is the Greek word we translate “faith.” The verb form of this word is not translated “faithed” but it is translated, “believe. ” Interestingly, when you look in 2Corinthians 6:14, you find that the term believer and unbeliever come from the same basic word. In the Greek language we take the first letter the alpha, the equivalent of our “a,” and we place it in front of a word and it becomes a negative then. So, you see the negative of believer is unbeliever, right? The opposite of a believer is an unbeliever. But what is a believer? A believer is one who has faith. There are a lot of people who profess to believe that do not have faith. There are a lot of people who profess Christianity, but they don’t have any faith. Right? So when the Bible speaks of an unbeliever, it is not necessarily speaking about someone who makes no profession. It is talking about someone who doesn’t have faith. In fact, if we read the next verse it says, “And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (v. 15) The word “infidel” in your King James Bible is the same word translated unbeliever. An infidel is an unbeliever, who is someone without faith! So an “unbeliever” or an “infidel” is not necessarily someone who makes no profession. An infidel is someone who has no faith. That should be a challenge to each and everyone one of us, friends. We claim to be believers, but we’ve got to walk in the light as He is in the light, and if we really love God, we will do His will.
The Bible says that we are not to have this fellowship, communion, or partnership with the world. As Christians we are at enmity with the world. In 1 Corinthians 10:20, Paul writes, “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” Would you like to have the devil for your roommate tonight? How about a demon or two at home with you? Of course that’s an easy answer, we think. But, friends, by our actions, by the things we live, the places we go, the activities we participate in, are we associating with devils? The Bible says in the book of Revelation, that there is a great confederacy in the last days composed of the beast, the dragon, and the false prophet. Revelation 12:9 declares that the dragon is Satan. I know sometimes, in prophetic circles, you will hear that Satan is the dragon, but the dragon is really pagan Rome. Now, clearly, the devil worked through pagan Rome, but the dragon is Satan. That should make us think whom are we dealing with when we are dealing with apostate powers, friends. We are dealing with the devil himself.
Not only does the Bible command us not to have fellowship with Satan, it takes it further. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:11) Not only the devil, but we shouldn’t have fellowship with the works of the devil. The word translated “fellowship” here is sugkoinoneo (sugkoinwnew) and can also mean “partnership.” It is also used in Revelation 18:4. “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers (sugkoinoneo ) of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Some will be lost in the last days because they have partaken of Babylon’s sins; they have become a partner with Babylon, formed a partnership. We must not form a partnership with the unfruitful works of righteousness. “Come out of her.” (Revelation 18:4) The Bible is explicit!
Are we not to witness to the unbeliever? Of course, the Bible teaches us that we, as believers, are to witness to unbelievers, to share the good news of the Gospel. We are not to live as isolated monks, away from society, and never entertain other people. But, friends, we are not to have that intimate fellowship, that communion, that partnership with the world, because the Bible says if we do that, it is enmity against God.
Beloved, it was God’s purpose, from the very beginning, to have unbroken fellowship and communion with man. We know that Satan, according to Genesis 3, got into the picture and through his temptation broke that communion between God and man. But, friends, I am so thankful that my God was not content to let that fellowship stay broken. He had tasted that first Sabbath, and He could not be content without another. Maybe you’ve eaten a good orange, sweet mango, or a crisp apple. You’ve eaten one that was really good and you’ve probably wanted another. You enjoyed that experience, didn’t you? God had tasted of that fellowship, that first Sabbath in Eden and He said, “I have to have more and I have to have it so much that I’m willing to send My only begotten Son to that earth to die for their sins, so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Friends, that is a great God, a wonderful God. That is the essence of the gospel, the good news. We have a God who loves us and who wants that fellowship with us.
“I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:23) This verse makes one of the most outstanding proclamations of the Bible. Jesus, the faithful and true witness, says that God loves you and me like He loves His only begotten Son. Now, I don’t understand that. I can’t fathom that! I’m just a piece of clay. I’m filthy and I have a very colored, wicked past. I’ve done things I know were not pleasing to God. But Jesus never did anything wrong. He never once went out of the will of His Father. It was always His delight to do the things that His Father gives Him to do. Jesus would be easy to love. Honestly, we can all relate to this. There is a young lady, that when she was a little girl, she used to come with her family and visit us at our home. She would come running and jump up on the couch and sit on my lap and just give me a big hug around the neck. She was so polite and nice and sweet. Oh, it was easy to learn to love that little girl, so easy. There are other little boys and girls that we’ve met through the years, who were not so easy to love. They cry and whine; they don’t do what you ask and it’s a little harder to love them. But God loves you and me even though we’ve cried, whined, and disobeyed. I’m so thankful for a God like that. The Bible says He loved me so much that He sent His Son to die for me. Jesus expresses the longing of God’s heart and His heart: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” (John 17:24) Friends, that’s what God wants. He wants us with Him and He has made every provision.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Revelation 21:1-3) Sin has separated us from God for too long. He longs for that intimate, face to face experience He had that first Sabbath. We can develop a character so we may stand in His presence face to face, friends. That’s what I want. Isn’t that what you want? Revelation 22:17 says, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Beloved, the door is open to fellowship with the God of this universe and with His Son! It’s not like President George W. Bush who says, “I have enough aids and staff here, CIA, FBI, and body guards, I can keep them all away.” No, God doesn’t want to keep you all away. He wants to draw you right to His breast and hold you. Will you let Him?
Last month we requested prayer for Brother Richard Carlson who recently had a stroke. We are saddened to report that on the 5th of July, Brother Carlson died. Please keep Richard’s wife, Bonnie, in your prayers. If you would like to send Bonnie a card of encouragement or any help, their address is P.O. Box 1102, Lady Lake, Florida 32158.
By the time this issue of Old Paths is mailed, Brother David Clayton and I will be in Europe (Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Poland, and Germany) visiting several groups of believers. Exciting plans have been made, and we covet your prayers as the work continues to burst forth in many areas.
Your prayers for the work in Africa and India are especially requested. God is moving upon many hearts in several areas even though the laborers and resources are few. “Pray without ceasing.” (1Thessalonians 5:17) Editor
Issues In Galatians
By David Clayton
Many Seventh-day Adventists and, in fact, most Christians, who believe in the observance of the ten commandments, seem to have a problem in understanding the issues which Paul faced and the arguments which he presented at the time when he wrote his epistle to the Galatians. Paul’s arguments are very important and understanding them is critical to a proper appreciation of the purpose and place of the law, as well as to a proper appreciation of the gospel. In fact, one of the issues at the famous 1888 Minneapolis General Conference was the disagreement between E. J. Waggoner and several leading delegates concerning the question of the law in Galatians.
In more recent times some Seventh-day Adventists have begun to advocate the observance of the laws given to Moses at Mount Sinai, and in particular, the feast days and festivals; namely, the Passover, the wavesheaf, the firstfruits, the Day of Pentecost, the blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. Though they do not advocate the offering of animal sacrifices, for the most part, they seek to observe these festivals in a similar way to how they were observed during biblical times, and at the exact times specified in the law.
The problem is that in Galatians 4:10,11 the apostle Paul chastises the Galatian brethren for observing certain time periods. He says, “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” (Galatians 4:10-11)
This seems to clearly suggest that the observance of set time periods such as was involved in the keeping of the feast days was unnecessary, and even undesirable and was a cause of concern to Paul. However, those who advocate the observance of the feast days claim that Paul was not here referring to the biblical feast days, but rather to pagan holidays and festivals which the Galatians had returned to. They suggest that Paul could not have referred to the feasts because:
Upon a surface investigation, this argument seems plausible. However, a closer examination of the situation will reveal that the central issue was not pagan holidays, but rather the observance of the festivals given to Israel at Mount Sinai that caused Paul such concern that he wrote this forceful letter.
The purpose of this study is not to look at the observance of the feast days in a comprehensive way. Rather, the aim is to examine the issues in the book of Galatians and to see what implications they have for the keeping of the feast days.
The Issue in the Book of Galatians
After writing a short greeting, Paul gets right to business stating, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)
Paul’s concern was that the Galatians were turning to “another gospel.” Yet it was not another gospel, because there is only one gospel. The Greek word translated “another” is heteros (eterov) and it means another of a different class or type.
The root of the Galatians’ problem was that their faith was being perverted or twisted. What was Satan’s point of attack? What was Satan, through those professing to proclaim the gospel, trying to persuade the Galatians to do?
The Essence of this “other gospel”
As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. (Galatians 6:12-13)
The main issue in this other “gospel” was the compelling (constrain) of these Galatian brethren to be circumcised.
It is interesting to note that Paul circumcised Timothy. (See Acts 16:1-3.) This makes it clear that there was nothing inherently wrong with circumcision itself. Paul makes this point in Galatians 6:15 where he says neither circumcision nor uncircumcision matters when you are in Christ Jesus. Paul did not circumcise Timothy because he believed it was a religious requirement, but simply to disarm prejudice among the Jews. Paul was simply following the inspired principle he taught the Corinthian believers:
“And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1Corinthians 9:20-22)
However, when circumcision was done for religious reasons, there were other things that would automatically follow and this was what troubled Paul about the direction the Galatians were taking.
What requirement went along with circumcision?
“For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:3-4)
The problem with circumcision for religious reasons was simple. If you accepted the need to be circumcised, you were making an admission that you had an obligation to observe the whole law. Religious circumcision never stood by itself. A person who believed that circumcision was still required by God obviously had no excuse for not keeping the rest of the law. The same principle that would make it necessary for him to be circumcised also put him under obligation to keep the whole law. This attempt to justify oneself by the observance of the law was an admission that justification was by law, rather than by grace. Paul said to such people, “Christ is become of none effect unto you!”
Now when the Galatians went back to law-keeping, what was it that was manifested in their lives? What was it that Paul saw in their lives which made him become very concerned about them, and fearful that they were about to lose their salvation, and afraid that all his work for them had been in vain?
What had the Galatians already started doing?
“Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.” (Galatians 4:10)
These Galatians were now fulfilling what Paul had stated: If a person was circumcised he was obligated to keep the whole law. They had already gone back to observing days, months, times, years, etc., and this was clearly in connection with their commitment to turn to the way of circumcision with its observance of the law.
What was wrong with keeping the whole law?
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. (Galatians 3:10-12)
Paul plainly says that those who “are of the works of the law are under a curse.” “The just shall live by faith,” but “the law is not of faith.”
The Divisions of the Law
Before we can properly understand Paul’s statements concerning the law in the book of Galatians, we have to recognize that there were four basic aspects to “the law.” These divisions are not stated as such in the Bible, but they are clearly evident. These divisions were:
Some of these laws carried principles that stand forever, while some were only of a temporary nature.
The Moral Law: The Ten Commandments were set apart from all other laws and are often referred to as the moral laws because they are clearly based on eternal principles, applicable to all ages and have to do with how a person relates to God, and to his fellowmen. These laws, written by God’s finger upon stone, are clearly separated by God Himself from all the other laws given to Moses.
It is true that Christians are not “under” the moral law, but if we understand what morality is, then we will understand why, even though we are not “under” the moral law, yet the moral law still must exist as a guide of life for believers. (Possible delete)
The issues comprehended with the moral law have to do with what is inherently right or wrong. They involve things that are right in themselves and not just because they have a temporary or cultural or situational importance. When something is moral, it cannot be of a transitory nature, but is right forever, and in any situation.
However, even with the moral law, the rule still applies that the “letter killeth but the spirit giveth life.” (2Corinthians 3:6) It is the principles of the law that must be applied instead of simply outward compliance with its specifications.
Now it is true that additional laws were given which dealt with various situations in which the moral law was applicable. As Ellen White puts it, these laws were given to “guard the ten commandments.” (R&H, May 6, 1875) These other “guardian” laws were necessary for spiritual children but certainly could not prescribe a solution for every single situation. God gave these other laws because of the spiritual immaturity of the Israelites. Ellen White noted that these laws were to clearly and definitely explain the Ten Commandments. (Ibid.)
Jesus illustrated this many times during His ministry here on earth. When He was asked about divorce, He appealed to the original principle behind marriage, not to the law. When he was asked about paying the temple tax he applied to principle, the spirit, not the specifications of the law. Notice His words in Matthew chapter 5:
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. . . . Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28)
An understanding of moral principles was needed instead of more details.
The Function of the Moral Law: Let us notice three basic functions of the moral law. First, the moral law defines and condemns sin and makes us aware of our need of Christ. Without the moral law, nobody would have any sense of guilt. Nobody would understand how wretched and sinful they are nor appreciate their need of Christ. “For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” (Romans 5:13) “What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (Romans 7:7)
Second, the moral law is a rule of life for believers. James makes it very clear that we shall be judged by the law, or the Ten Commandments. Even though true commandment-keeping goes beyond the letter of the law, yet this is the standard which God will use to judge us, so that no Christian can be excused by saying that he does not have a way of knowing how God wants him to behave. “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” (James 2:12)
Third, the moral law promotes civil and social justice and restrains evil. The ungodly do not know God, neither are they led by the Holy Spirit, but they do have a guide which makes them know what is right and what is wrong. They have the Ten Commandments that declare to them the wickedness of their ways and show them the behavior which God requires. Paul wrote, “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers.” (1 Timothy 1:9)
Sacrificial Laws: When a person transgressed the moral law, the sacrifices were to typify the death of Christ that satisfied the demands of the broken law. The sacrificial laws of symbols and types were only necessary because the moral law had been broken. They never truly dealt with the real issue of cleansing or of removing sin. They only illustrated the reality. By their very nature they had to pass away when the reality was fulfilled.
Civil Laws: The civil laws were necessary for keeping society in order. These included laws such as, if a man plucked out the eyes of another, the judges should pluck out his eyes. Eye should be given for eye, tooth for tooth etc. These principles still exist today. However, instead of being administered by God’s people under the theocracy, they are administered by the civil governments. The Apostle Paul tells us that these governmental or civil powers are put there, are ordained by God to be a terror to evildoers. (See Romans 13:3,4.)
Health Laws: Because God wanted His people to be healthy, He gave them laws of health. However, we must understand the circumstances under which these laws were given and we must adjust accordingly. When the Israelites were in the wilderness they were commanded to carry a little shovel around with them so that when they went to the toilet they could dig a hole and then cover the waste afterwards. Does this rule still apply today? If we accept the law without understanding, we would say, “yes.” But when we understand that the purpose of God was to prevent disease, then we still apply the principle in being careful with our toilet habits, but not the letter of keeping a shovel with us.
Other Typical Laws
The feast days were also typical (although for the Israelites they also were reminders of historical events such as preservation of their firstborn on the night when the angel of death passed through Egypt). They pointed forward to major events such as the death of Christ, the cleansing of God’s people from sin, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Obviously these would never have been necessary had there been no transgression of the moral law. They were temporary institutions intended to teach God’s people, in their spiritual childhood, the major events to take place in the plan of salvation. When God’s people became spiritually mature, it would no longer be necessary for them to act out these symbols of salvation, but rather, to experience the reality.
We consider it quite appropriate for little girls to play with dolls. Girls talk to the dolls, feed them, change their clothing, and make houses for them. We think all this is quite in order and even natural. But would we feel the same way if we saw a grown woman doing the same thing? Most likely she would end up in a mental institution. Children need these playthings, these toys, as they are growing up. They help them to learn lessons that actually are helpful when they become adults. But now that we are adults and no longer children, why should we go back to playing with toys? Why go back to a religion that was only intended to be a teaching tool? Why go back to a system of types when the reality is now here. When I am away from my wife on a trip, I enjoy looking at her picture and thinking of her. When I come home, the picture gives way to the real presence of my wife.
Obviously then, when Paul says that the man who is circumcised is obligated to keep the whole law, he is not referring to the Ten Commandments or the moral law. He is speaking of the other laws which were not included among the Ten, and which were not written on stone.
What was the purpose of the law?
Why was the law given if it was not able to save people? Why did God give something if it was not complete, or if it was not fully effective? Notice what Paul wrote to the Galatians:
“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” (Galatians 3:19)
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24)
Paul tells us plainly the purpose of the law. It was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. It was added, “till the seed should come.” It had a definite purpose for a limited time. How can we miss it? How can we believe that we still have an obligation to the law when the Bible says so clearly that we are no longer under the schoolmaster? The schoolmaster’s purpose was to take us to Christ. Now that we have come to Christ, the schoolmaster is obsolete, no longer necessary.
What change took place with the coming of Christ?
“But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Galatians 3:25)
“To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:5)
The Bible presents the knowledge of salvation in a progressive manner. There is a progression to God’s plan for recovering man from the damage caused by sin. Let us clearly state that salvation is, and has always been by faith. Before the cross, faith was found and expressed through the observance of the law, through the repetitious observance of rituals and ceremonies. While many of the patriarchs did find faith in this way, the system was limited and unsatisfactory, and only intended to be a temporary measure.
However, since Calvary the light of reality has flooded humanity, and we are now able to grasp spiritually mature concepts without acting out the forms symbolizing the things we believe.
What spiritual condition required that the first believers be placed under governance of the law?
“Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.” (Galatians 4:1-3)
Paul describes the past state of God’s people using the symbols of children and servants (slaves) with the status being the same. Notice that Paul says, “we.” He is not speaking about the Galatians only. He is including himself. He is speaking of the whole church. He says that the heir, the Father’s legitimate child, is no different than a servant (doulos -doulos slave). Let us see what Paul is saying here.
When a child is small, he is totally under the rule of his parents. He makes very few decisions for himself. His parents tell him when to bathe, what to eat, which clothes to put on, whom to play with, when to go out, and when to come in, etc. He has no freedom to do the things which he wants but must always do the will of his parents. Is this bondage? If an adult found himself in that kind of situation he would consider himself to be no different than a slave, yet this is how most parents treat their small children. This “bondage” is necessary for the child’s protection as well as for the child’s training.
When Paul uses the word “bondage,” it means bondage in the sense of being completely under the control of another person. As we noted, this kind of bondage is terrible when you are an adult, but when you are a child it is necessary. When we are children, it is necessary that we be under “bondage,” in this sense because a child is incapable of properly using freedom.
A man who observes rules without understanding or being in harmony with the principle of the rule is in bondage. The rule constrains him. He does not obey because his mind is in harmony with the rule, but rather, he obeys from a sense of obligation. External forces control him.
Now Paul says we were in bondage “when we were children.” Does he mean when we were three years old? Who is the “we” here? He is speaking about the people of God. He is not speaking of the Galatians as former heathen; he is speaking of the church of God, including the Galatians, as an institution that was once in a state of spiritual infancy. As a Jamaican, I may say, “we obtained our independence in the year 1962.” However, as one of the people of God I would say that once our people were in bondage in Egypt. This is how Paul is speaking to the Galatians; as a part of the people of God whose heritage included the worship of the Old Testament.
Paul is saying that when we were children in Old Testament times, we were no different than slaves. We were under governors and tutors (also called “the elements of the world”); we were in bondage, entirely under the control of somebody else.
What negative effect does the law have?
“Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar.” (Galatians 4:24)
“Mount Sinai gendereth to bondage,” or produces bondage. What does Mount Sinai represent? What happened on Mount Sinai? It was there that the law was given. It was there that the first covenant was instituted and Paul says, there were two covenants, the one from Mount Sinai produces bondage. Again we read in Galatians 4:25:
“For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.”
Paul is talking about the Jews. Earthly Jerusalem is in bondage with her children (the Jews). Mount Sinai produces this bondage. Why were the Jews in bondage? They were following Mount Sinai. The law was still their governor.
When Paul says that we, the people of God were children (spiritually) in bondage, he does not mean that we were in bondage under sin. If we look at the use of this word “bondage” in the book of Galatians, we will see that it consistently refers to being under the government of the law. The administration of law produces bondage. We, the people of God who once were under law were in bondage. The false brethren were trying to bring the Galatians back into that kind of bondage.
“And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.” (Galatians 2:4)
Normally Adventist would never associate the word “bondage” with the law, because God gave the law. But Paul who was taught the gospel by Christ Himself (Galatians 1:11,12), declared that by seeking to bring them back to the system of law, back to circumcision along with the rest of the law of Moses, false brethren were seeking to bring the Galatians back into bondage. However, when we understand that “bondage” is good for a child, but not for an adult, we will appreciate the fact that there was a time when “bondage” was necessary. During the time of the Old Testament, this system was good because of the spiritual immaturity (childish state) of the people of God. Now, with the light from the life and death of Jesus, we are to be spiritual adults and such bondage is not only unnecessary, but is a harmful thing. This is why Paul was astonished at the Galatians’ desire to be again under the law.
“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:9)
There can be no question that this was what Paul was referring to when he admonished the Galatians in Galatians 5:1 to be not entangled again with “the yoke of bondage.”
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:1-4)
Please look at the chart below and you will see that there is a consistency and clarity in Paul’s teaching in the book of Galatians with respect to this word “bondage.” Mount Sinai produces bondage. Earthly Jerusalem and the Jews are still in bondage. We (God’s people) were once in that bondage. False brethren want to bring us back into that bondage. The Galatians desired to be in that bondage: they had gone back to observing days, weeks, months, years, so Paul counsels, “be not entangled again with this yoke of bondage.” Bondage is good and even necessary for a child, but when a person comes to maturity, such bondage is an irksome, degrading, limiting, and an unnecessary yoke.
What is the status of God’s people now? Are we children or adults?
“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Galatians 4:4-7)
The apostle Paul uses several symbols referring to the same thing. He says they were once: under the law, under the schoolmaster, under tutors and governors, under bondage, under the elements of the world. When you are under the law you have no choice whether you like it or not. You have to come under the commands of the law, whether or not you understand or appreciate the principles of the law. It is a way of life for children. The parent may say, “Please pick up your toy.” So the child says, “Why daddy?” the parent says, “Just do it.” Whether or not he understands, he must still obey. This kind of rule is necessary for children, but for adults it is highly unsatisfactory. Paul says we were once children, but we are no longer servants, we are now sons.
What change takes place when a person is no longer a servant?
“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:15)
The servant does not know what his master is doing, but he has to obey anyway. There are some people who keep the Sabbath just because the law says so. They go through the motions because the rule prescribes it, but what is the true purpose and meaning of the Sabbath? Only the son knows and therefore only the son can give the service that pleases the Father. Only the son can keep the Sabbath in the spirit, rather than in the letter. Let me give an illustration that will clarify the point that I am making:
A sign has been posted at the front door that says, “Please wipe your feet before you come in.” It has been raining and the yard is muddy. Two children, young boys, approach the door and they enter one behind the other. The first one wipes his feet once and then steps inside. Has he obeyed the law? He certainly has. No one can accuse him of doing otherwise, but as he walks inside there are still telltale signs as he leaves a trail of muddy footprints on the clean floor of the living room, testimony to the fact that he did not wipe his feet properly. Nevertheless, he did obey the law. He did what was required.
The second child comes to the door and he removes his shoes, then he steps across the threshold without once wiping his feet. Did he obey the law? While he did not keep the letter of the law he clearly fulfilled the spirit of the law’s intent! That obedience is evidenced by the fact that there is no trail of dirty footprints behind him as he walks into the living room. He did not obey the letter of the law, but he fulfilled the righteousness intended by the law. He fulfilled what the law was intended to produce. The behavior of the first boy is that of a child, a servant, one under bondage. The behavior of the second boy is that of an adult, a son, a person delivered from the law.
If a Seventh-day Adventist is dying of starvation and is offered a piece of pork to save his life, should he eat it? Now this is a theoretical question. God probably would not allow any of us to get into this kind of situation, but the point is, if such a situation arose, what would be the correct thing to do? Most Seventh-day Adventists would say, “it would be better to starve rather than to eat the pork.” Why? Because the law says:
“And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.” (Leviticus 11:7)
For most it is a question of what the law says. But the real question is, “what was the purpose of this law? What was the intent of the law? What did the Father desire when He gave this law? We need to consider the spirit, rather than the letter. God’s intent was that His people should be healthy and He gave them laws to ensure that they would enjoy the most healthful lifestyles. However, in the case in question, what is the healthier alternative? Is it to be sick from eating pork or to be dead of starvation? Think about it. Most Adventists would say, “I would rather die than to violate one of the laws of God.” This sounds good, but such a person would keep the letter of the law (would obey the specified details) but at the same time would violate the principles or the spirit or the intent of the law. He would choose death (the most unhealthy condition of all) rather than life, which is what the health laws are intended to promote. It is better to be sick than to be dead!
The Jews insisted that the hands should be washed before eating. Suppose the hands were already clean? This did not matter or make any difference to them. The law said to wash their hands and the law had to be obeyed. There was no intelligence in their obedience. All that mattered was what the law said. The law was their master. They were under law and they did not know what their Master was doing.
Now this is the problem with being under the law. It can instruct you, but it cannot meet every situation nor apply itself to all the possible variations that may arise. That is why the Bible indicates that being under the law was not desirable as a permanent situation.
This is why we must understand the reason for the types and the place they had in God’s plan. In looking at the question of whether or not the feast days are still to be observed, the question is not, “what does the law say?” The question is, “what was the goal, the intent, the purpose of these feast-day laws?” Their purpose was to teach us of the realities of the different phases of salvation history. As children, we acted out these symbols every year. As it were, we learned by playing with toys and models. Now that we are adults we have left these limited and childish elements of the world behind. Now we deal with the realities and not the forms.
Elements of the world
“Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.” (Galatians 4:1-3)
“But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.” (Galatians 3:23)
Was Paul referring to the law when he spoke of “the elements of the world?” The word “elements” is taken from the Greek word, stoicheion (stoiceion - Strong’s # 4747) which means, “the elements, rudiments, primary and fundamental principles of any art, science or discipline.” (Online Bible Greek Lexicon) The law dealt with the rudiments or fundamental principles of the religion of Christ. Its services, as such, had no eternal worth, but related only to this world and as such, were “elements of the world.”
The apostle Paul declares that as Christians we no longer live in the world (Colossians 2:20), but we live in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). In fact, he states that we no longer know any man after the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:16). The point is that we have become heavenly citizens and should operate on the principles of heaven. This is why Paul writes:
“Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Colossians 2:20-3:1)
If you are a spiritual person, the things of earth cannot affect you in a spiritual sense, so the rules which apply to this earth which forbid touching, tasting, and handling are not the rules which govern those who are risen with Christ. Such restrictions have to do with this life, with things of this world, with “elements of the world.” These worldly principles, which are based on sight, sense, touch, and carnal observances, don’t apply to you anymore. You are not of this world. We are spiritual beings; therefore, “if you are led by the spirit you are not under the law.” Your reason for behavior is a new heart and a new mind, and all the principles of government that were intended to bring you to this place are no longer applicable.
Weak and beggarly elements
Objection might be raised to the fact that Paul refers to the Galatians as turning again to the “weak and beggarly elements” to which they desired again to be in bondage. The objection is, “would Paul have described the laws given by God Himself as “weak and beggarly?” Again, let us seek to understand what the words in question mean. The word “beggarly” is translated from the Greek word ptochos (ptwcov - Strong’s # 4434). The Online Bible Greek Lexicon gives several variations for its meaning. However, the one which seems to be most applicable in this context is “helpless, powerless to accomplish an end.” This is a perfect description of the law in its entirety. It was helpless and weak in the sense that it could never make man perfect. It could demand perfection, it could describe perfection, it could teach the way of perfection, but it could never accomplish perfection. Paul makes this clear in the following verses:
“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” (Galatians 3:21)
“For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” (Hebrews 7:19)
God’s aim for His people is life and righteousness. The law could point the way to life and righteousness, but it never could produce it. If it could have, then righteousness would have been by the law. The law made nothing perfect.
In the Old Testament God was dealing with the church as a whole in a state of infancy. They had to grow from infancy to adulthood. The system then, was perfect for infants. We don’t expect the same level of perfection from children as we expect from adults. However, as far as they can understand, we expect obedience and we judge them according to their level of comprehension. A child can never be as perfect in maturity as an adult can be, but a newborn baby may be perfect for its stage of development. You expect the child to obey when you say, “no.” That is perfection for its stage. So for the Israelites, perfection consisted of obedience as far as they were able to understand. But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son to “redeem them that were under the law,” that we might become spiritual adults. Infancy and infant behaviour is no longer acceptable.
These are the real issues in the book of Galatians. The problem was not that the Galatians were returning to paganism, but that they were turning to Judaism. The concern of the entire book is the relationship of the Christian to the law. Therefore Paul’s reference to “days, months, times and years has nothing to do with pagan holidays, but rather with the feast days prescribed by the law.
In Galatians 2:16 Paul states, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” In the Greek version of this text, the definition article “the” in the phrases “works of the law” is supplied. Paul is speaking of the concept of law, including the Ten Commandments. However, the issue was never if the Ten Commandment law was the perfect guide for Christians. Paul was clear that the Ten Commandments were not abolished. He emphatically stated that faith established the law in the believer’s heart. (See Romans 3:31 and Hebrews 10:16.)?
(Brother David Clayton writes from his home in Jamaica. His address is P.O. Box 23 Knockpatrick, Manchester, Jamaica, W.I. Phone: (876) 904-7392. You may send David e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Kept by the Word
by A. T. Jones
(This article was taken from The Review and Herald of October 13, 1896 Editor)
In the Christian life everything depends upon the word of God. It is true that God is able and desires to keep us from sinning, but this must be done through His word. So it is written, “By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.” “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” This is the way that God has appointed and there is no other way to have this thing accomplished.
Nor is this way appointed merely because He arbitrarily chose that this should be the way and then laid it upon men that this must be the way that they should go. His word is the way of salvation and the way of sanctification (Christian living) because this is the way that the Lord does things, because this is the way that He manifests Himself. It was by His word that He created all things in the beginning. It is by His word that He creates men anew, and it will be by His word that He will recreate this world and all things pertaining to it. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. … For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” “Being born again. … by the word of God.” “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold I make all things new. … And he said unto me, It is done.”
It is not only that the worlds were created by the word of God, but they are also sustained by the same word. “By the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; whereby [by the word of God] the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store.” So also it is not only that the Christian is created by the word of God, but by that same word He is sustained, nourished, and caused to grow. God holds up "all things" by His powerful word. And the Christian is among this “all things” no less than any or all the worlds.
There can be no question whatever that all the worlds are held up and held in their places by the Lord. But it is not only all the worlds, it is “all things” that are held up and held in place by the Lord. And it is as true of the Christian as it is of any star in the firmament or any world on high. Nor can there be any question that the stars and the worlds are held up and held in their courses by the word of the Lord. And no less than this can there be any question that the Christian is held up and held in his right course by the word of the Lord.
This is to be believed and depended upon by every one who professes the name of Christ. You and I can no more hold ourselves up and in the right way than can the sun or the earth. And as certainly as the worlds are dependent upon His word, so certainly is the Christian to depend upon His word. And when this is so, the Christian is kept in the way of the Lord as certainly and as easily as is any planet in the universe. It is written that He “is able to keep you from falling.” And He says, “I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” “Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”
O struggling, failing Christian, is not that word which holds up great worlds able also to hold up you? Trust that word. Depend implicitly upon it. Rest wholly upon it, and then you will find rest in it. Trust the Lord to hold you up, just as you trust Him to hold up the sun. His word holds up the sun, and His word is over and over to you, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee.” “I will uphold thee.” I will keep thee, thou art mine. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” I will never leave thee till I have done that thing which I have spoken to thee of.
“The word of God is quick [‘living,’ R. V.] and powerful.” “Powerful” means “full of power.” the word of God is living and full of power, to do for you, with you, and in you, all that that word says. Believe that word, trust it, for it is the word of the living God. It is the word of the pitying Saviour. “Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your soul.” “I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up.” “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” You “are kept by the power of God through faith.” The power of God is manifested through His word and therefore it is His powerful word. Faith comes by hearing the word of God; therefore, it is the faithful word, the word full of faith. Therefore when He says, you “are kept by the power of God through faith,” it is only saying in another way, You are kept by the word of God, “unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Believe that word, trust it, and find its keeping power.&
Youth’s Corner —Unquestioning Faith
In the city of Capernaum a nobleman’s son lies sick unto death. In vain his father has tried to save him. A messenger comes with hurried steps to the mansion, and asks to see the nobleman. He tells him that he has just come from Jerusalem, and that there is in Galilee a prophet of God, declared by some to be the long-expected Messiah. His work has awakened an intense interest in the city of Jerusalem, the messenger says, and crowds follow him wherever he goes. It may be that he can heal the child.
As the nobleman listens, the expression of his countenance changes from despair to hope. Determined to leave no means untried to save his child’s life, he decides to go himself to see this prophet. The hope born in his soul strengthens as he prepares for his journey. Before the day dawns, he is on his way to Cana of Galilee, where Jesus is supposed to have gone. The journey is long and the road rough, but nothing can deter the anxious father.
Finding Jesus, he beseeches him to come to Capernaum and heal his son. “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe,” Jesus answers. To a certain extent, the nobleman did believe, else he would not have taken the long journey at that critical time. But Christ desired to increase his faith.
With heartbroken entreaty the father cries, “Sir, come down ere my child die.” He fears that each passing moment will place his son beyond the power of the Healer. But his faith is yet imperfect. Desiring to lead him to perfect faith, the Saviour replies, “Go thy way; thy son liveth.”
“And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.” Assured that the death he has dreaded will not come to his son, the nobleman does not ask any question, nor seek any explanation. He believes. Over and over again he repeats the words, “Thy son liveth.”
And the power of the words of the Redeemer flashes like lightning from Cana to Capernaum, and the child is healed. The nobleman shows his faith by not insisting on the presence of Jesus, and immediately the power of Satan is rebuked. The dying boy feels the joy of restoration.
The watchers by the bedside mark with bated breath the conflict between life and death. And when in an instant the burning fever disappears, they are filled with amazement. Knowing the anxiety of the father, they go to greet him with the joyful tidings. He has only one question to ask, When did the child begin to mend? They tell him, and he is satisfied. He believed when he turned his face homeward; now his faith is crowned with assurance. A holy atmosphere surrounds him, and as he looks upon his son, healed of all disease, spiritual life sanctifies his soul. He is converted. With the simple faith of a little child he receives the great gift of the kingdom of heaven. The same power which restores the child to health, banishes unbelief from the father’s heart.
What a witness Christ has in this nobleman! He had asked for the life of his son, not expecting to receive anything himself. But he realized that a great power had taken possession of his soul. He recognized Christ as the physician of the soul as well as the body. Overjoyed, filled with peace and gladness, he exclaimed, Today is salvation come to this house. Spiritual life, with all its transforming power, was breathed into his soul, and he proclaimed in Capernaum the wonderful power of the Saviour.
In our work for Christ, we need more of the unquestioning faith of the nobleman. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” By faith we behold God in his promises, and are armed with stability. The Christian knows in whom he has believed. He does not only read the Bible; he experiences the power of its teaching. He has not only heard of Christ’s righteousness; he has opened the windows of the soul to the light of the Sun of righteousness. He has a knowledge which can not be wrested from him. The one who trusts his Saviour implicitly finds the gates of heaven ajar and flooded with glory from the throne of God. (Mrs. E. G. White, Youth’s Instructor, December 4, 1902)
Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web sites. The urls are: http://www.smyrna.org and http://www.presenttruth.info. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.
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This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013