When the early Colonists in America read the words:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Gal. 5:1
They understood that this verse was talking about ALL forms of Liberty.
They applied it to American civil Liberty as well as to the spiritual faith liberties that are supplied by Jesus Christ.
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"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Thomas Jefferson
"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." Thomas Jefferson
Many would consider Paul's letter to the Galatians as second only to his letter to the Romans in importance. It has been said that if you were to be stranded on a desert island with only one book from the Bible that Romans would be a very good candidate to take along as it so clearly lays down the primary principles of the Christian faith. Some would take a Gospel, perhaps Mark or John. Others might prefer something else. At any rate, Galatians is a sort of 'little Romans' as it deals with the same primary concerns. In the end everyone has different insights to various parts of scripture and if you read enough of them you will certainly be wise in the things of God. Most importantly, you would understand God's free grace like never before.
From Ultimate Freedom
Without taking anything away from what will be developed by Paul in Galatians, it would be good at this point to present and partially develop some highlights about grace. First and foremost, it is important to understand that to receive the grace of God we must first acknowledge both with our minds and our hearts that we are totally dependent on God. This is the first big problem. Today in Western culture we are taught that independence and self-reliance are the most important virtues that we can possess. In religious circles we are taught that we are dependent on God for our salvation because we are sinners and desperately in need of the help and deliverance that only he can provide. This is true. But in the teaching of this we are so often left with the impression deep down in our beings that the dependence is because of our sin alone. This is not true. We were originally designed to be dependent on God. Adam was given great power to be in charge of the entire natural world. But he had this power in dependence on God. He lost this power when he took his life into his own hands. Jesus said that he did not do anything that he did not see the Father doing.
Jesus walked in total dependence on God. Dependence on God is not wrong. Dependence on God is good. When our sins are dealt with by the cross of Christ, we are free from the consequences of them. But we were never supposed to be free from God. He wants us to draw from him continually. He delights in meeting our every need. The life of faith is an adventure with God meeting every need, even anticipating our needs and arranging the supply before we ask. This is healthy Christianity. To walk in grace, when we can only stop our sinning by degrees, requires us to be willingly dependent as a life long lifestyle. Only after we embrace this, can we truly understand grace. Many earthly dependencies have unwanted side effects.
Dependence on God has no unwanted side effects. The unwanted side effects of drugs, for example, are that they can in themselves be damaging to a person. Also, they will lead to a dependency which will take a person away from the good things in life. And, last but not least, the supply of the drug may be interrupted or stopped and painful withdrawal will result. A dependency on God will not lead to any of these consequences. God is not damaging to the person. His goal is to free the person and help that person to realize all his or her potential. A dependency on God will not take us away from the good things in life. Rather it will bring us into a complete fulfillment of the good things in life like health and love and relationship and joy. Finally, the prospect of not being able to receive God or the blessings of God at any time in the future is not possible, at least not from God’s side of the relationship. God is always available to us and always will be in this life and in eternity.
This dependency does certainly imply relationship. We are to live in a living relationship with a living God. This is not a book of rules. The rules, called the Law, were added because of the growth of disobedience. But rules have never been the object of God’s relationship with his people. A religion of rules is not the Christian faith; it is not the faith that Paul teaches; it is not the faith that Jesus teaches. They teach relationship with the living God. Sometimes it is easier for people to learn to walk by rule than by relationship. Sometimes people prefer rules to relationship. “Just tell me what the rules are and I will do it.” Relationship is harder than rules because there is a living being on both sides of the issue. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of relationship. Rules lead to death; relationship leads to life. They say that the three most important things in real estate are location, location and location. The three most important things in the Christian life are relationship, relationship and relationship; relationship first with God and then with our fellow human beings.
The peace of God that accompanies grace is a special peace. The peace of God is not dependent on circumstances. Circumstances can be difficult and we can still have the peace of God that comes from walking in relationship with him. The peace of God passes or goes beyond understanding. Sometimes, this makes Christians look irrational. This is not because they do not understand rational conduct but because they have been enabled to live beyond the rational when necessary. Most of the time they will probably live within rational guidelines and understanding.
Gal. 3:17 And this I say, [that] the covenant, that was confirmed
before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
3:18 For if the inheritance [be] of the law, [it is] no more of promise: but God gave [it] to Abraham by promise.
3:19 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.
Since the law was not part of God’s original plan to save and bless us, it was added, Paul says, after the covenant was established. The law was added to help keep the Jews in line because they had rejected personal relationship with God. It was also added to show everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, that we could not keep the law. But it was not added to the covenant. Paul has already told us that you can not add to a covenant once it is ratified. It was merely added as a temporary discipline and a lesson. When Jesus came and completed the sacrifice and sent the Holy Spirit to change us from within, the law was cast aside and we returned in practice to the original covenant of faith. It is either law or promise, but there can not be a mixture of the two. So it is really a covenant of promise. God promises and we believe. We depend on Him and He sends the Holy Spirit to change us into the person that He wants us to be and that we want to be as well.
3:20 Now a mediator is not [a mediator] of one, but God is one.
The law was given through a mediator, a go between. The Gospel was done in person by God, through Jesus Christ, who had become one of us. That is another reason why the Gospel is better.
3:21 [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.
The law does not contradict the promises of God. Indeed, God really wants us to act like the rules of the law dictate. But we can not first gain favor with God by obeying the rules. We already have favor with God because of his covenant which he initiated with us. So we must simply believe this. Even after we believe, we can win no points with God by obeying the rules. Sure, he wants us to live like we are obeying His rules. But we can only do this by letting the Holy Spirit change us and by concentrating on our relationship with God. If we think on the rules, we will break them. If we think on God, we will keep the rules. That is how it works. It is a great secret and a great power.
Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
About The Author
David Keyser has taught in the pastorate and on the mission field in Kenya and in Mexico since he was ordained in 1967. David earned a B.S. in secondary education from The Citadel in 1964, a Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1967, an M.S. in Industrial Relations from Loyola University of Chicago in 1977, and a Master of Theology degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1997. He received his Ph.D. in systematic theology from the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland.
David J. Keyser PhD
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