How the Cross of Christ
Changed the Role and
Definition of Repentance
Rock of Offence Special Commentary
This is Part 3 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriatle link to access
the other parts.
The Reason Saint Paul Wrote
The Epistle to the Galatians
It wasn’t but a few years after Christ’s crucifixion that we see the beginning of the most spiritually dangerous disinformation campaign ever devised against the Church. It starts in the book of Acts with a group of “believing Pharisees” (or Pharisees claiming to have faith in Christ) who had strong disagreements with Saint Paul’s Grace Gospel message. They presented their doctrine to the apostolic leadership of the Church for consideration. Modern-day theologians often refer to this meeting as “The First Jerusalem Council”. After a lengthy discussion, the council, headed by James (our Lord’s brother), made their decision. They not only condemned the doctrine but also wrote a letter warning the churches about its deceptive message. But these Pharisees, acting as ministers and ‘apostles of Christ’, refused to abide by the council’s decision and began to spread their doctrine everywhere Paul had planted a church.
After the initial introduction of this pharisaical doctrine in Acts chapter 15, the church established by Paul at Galatia becomes one of its first victims. To confront the error, Paul wrote his “Epistle to the Galatians”. In this epistle (or letter) he not only sharply rebukes the entire congregation and tells them why they are wrong – but also provides the most detailed explanation of the authentic Gospel of Christ found in the New Testament.
Paul makes the following statement
to the Galatian congregation at the
beginning of his letter. It not only
summarizes the error – but also
reveals Paul’s anger and frustration
concerning their failure.
"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3)
In this statement, Paul asks
a specific question that every
professing Christian should
carefully consider today.
“Did you receive the Spirit
by the works of the law, or
by the hearing of faith?”
In this instance, we should understand that when Paul uses the phrase, “did you receive the Spirit …” he was also referring to the way they received Christ’s salvation. As we previously learned in this study ... after the cross, salvation only exists in those who are indwelled and sealed by the Holy Spirit. If someone is truly saved, then the Spirit of Christ must also abide in that person. Paul often taught from the perspective that these two statements; receiving the Spirit - and receiving salvation … are both part of the same truth. To the believers at Rome, Paul said it this way …
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." (Romans 8:9-11)
As a result, in Galatians 3:1-3 - Paul was essentially asking the Galatians; “did you receive Christ’s salvation by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?” He was contrasting the following two systems of theology, where each claims to provide true salvation.
The works of the law - taught by
the “believing Pharisees”
of Acts chapter 15
The hearing of faith – taught by
the authentic Gospel of Christ.
Yet, after the cross, salvation (accompanied by “the receiving of the Spirit”) only comes through “the hearing of faith”. In Romans 10:8-13, Paul uses different terminology to describe “the hearing of faith” and refers to it as; “the word of faith which we preach". Regardless of which term is used, he is describing a grace-based gospel message that causes the listener to "believe on Jesus Christ" which results in their immediate salvation - apart from their works, personal merit and moral condition. This is precisely what happened in Acts chapter 10 when Peter preached Christ at the house of Cornelius. In this case, believing on (or placing our faith and trust in) Jesus Christ as; “the Lamb of God who takes away our sin” - now totally satisfies and fulfills all the salvation requirements for repentance previously demanded by Old Testament Law. (Matthew 5:17)
But, Paul gives the following
warning to those who try to
receive salvation through
‘the works of the law’ :
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the law is not of faith..." (Galatians 3:10-12)
"Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight.” (Romans 3:20)
"You have become estranged (separated/cutoff) from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from Grace." (Galatians 5:4)
Attempting to obtain salvation through “the works and deeds of the Law” is what various theologians and Bible scholars call “Galatian religion” - or simply Galatianism. Others choose to call it “legalism”. Saint Paul called it “another Jesus and a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6-8, 2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Since its introduction in the first century, it continues to be a threat to the Church because it operates as a religious counterfeit (or “look-alike”) that seeks to replace authentic New Covenant faith in Christ. Countless different names and labels are connected with this error that has been around for more than 1900 years. The name was derived from the Galatian congregation in Paul’s writings that went dangerously astray in their faith, but were convinced they were walking in a right relationship with God. Galatian religion demands that the rigorous and intensive Old Testament law-based repentance is still required as a precondition to be saved - and must be repeated every time sin is committed to avoid losing salvation. Once again, this popular way of believing the Bible, based on the previous Old Testament program, is actually a denial of the redemption provided by the authentic Jesus Christ of the New Testament.
As we previously stated, what is often called 'Galatianism' began in the first century with the ‘believing Pharisees’ in Acts chapter 15 - and was condemned by the apostolic church leadership. But, it didn’t end there. It was later picked up, reworded and modified by the Catholic theologian, Augustine of Hippo who incorporated it in the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church around the 5th century. It was then preached as “God’s Biblical theology” in the Protestant Reformation by John Calvin (a devoted disciple of Augustine) and his colleagues in the 16th century. From these powerful positions of influence Galatianism spread like a plague to almost every corner of Christendom - crossing all denominational lines. As a result, what many believe is authentic Christianity – is actually its counterfeit; Galatian religion.
The primary reason we spend so much effort discussing this controversial topic – is the unthinkable spiritual and eternal consequences involved in a problem, specifically recorded in the New Testament, that many Christians and their leaders refuse to acknowledge.
Additional information is available HERE
The Last Adam
In the opening pages of Genesis, we find the story of Adam and Eve. It is here that Adam, through one act of disobedience - enslaves the entire human race to sin. But, did you know that the New Testament speaks about “a last Adam” who completely reverses what the first Adam set into motion?
Rather than repeat a previous study
you can get all the details HERE
Grace Does Not Release
Us From Holy Living
We often repeat the following Scriptural admonition in our studies to address common misconceptions about the Christian faith:
Obtaining salvation through the unmerited and undeserved favor of God (called “Grace”) does not release us from the task of avoiding sin, doing good works, adopting Christ-Like behavior and holy living. God instructs all Christians to seek after these things - but for reasons other than obtaining His gift of eternal life. Scripture instructs us to avoid sin because it is inconsistent with our new life in Christ (Romans 6:1-4). Our Heavenly Father also tells His children that seeking these character attributes is the right thing to do - since they are Christ's representatives (the New Testament calls them “the body of Christ” - Ephesians 1:15-23) on earth. The world often forms their beliefs and opinions about God by observing the conduct and behavior of His representatives. If the believer’s conduct involves a sinful lifestyle, it often causes those around them to have an improper or false perception of God – possibly to the point of speaking evil of Him. Yet despite these reasons, our Heavenly Father sternly warns that our attempt to achieve these character attributes (which involves work and effort) is never to be used as requirements or pre-conditions to obtain and keep what Scripture calls, God’s unmerited and undeserved gift of eternal life. (Read Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:19-21, Galatians 3:10-12 and Galatians 5:4, Romans 4:4-8, Titus 3:5-7)
The cross of Christ and what God accomplished at this major Biblical event is described by Saint Paul as ‘a mystery’. Those of us who are familiar with mystery novels and stories are aware of how incorrect and disastrous conclusions are often made before all the facts are known. When we begin to study the many truths and principles of God’s mystery – the outcome tends to be the same. Understanding this problem is so crucial to our faith that we place a commentary on the entrance page to our website, which can also be viewed HERE
The apostle Paul called Christ’s New Covenant “The Mystery of Christ” - and God made Paul the exclusive administrator of its truths through what Bible scholars call, “The Pauline Revelation” (Read Ephesians 3;1-12, 2 Corinthians 12;1-4 and Galatians 1:11-12). Contrary to popular beliefs, Paul was the only apostle to receive this revelation about the mystery of the New Covenant, which was also the source of the Gospel of Christ that he preached. This mystery was not fully revealed for several years (some theologians think 7-10 years, but nobody actually knows how long) after Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Here’s a small part of what Jesus Christ had to say about the revealing of this truth. We quoted His words earlier, but let's look at them again.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify Me: For He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:7-14)
Notice the timeframe in Christ’s words. The truth He wanted his disciples to know wasn’t going to be fully revealed - except for some vague “types and shadows” - until after His death, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Why? The crucifixion, the spilling of His blood, the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit had to happen first before the New Covenant could begin.
UNTIL THE NEW COVENANT
BEGAN; THE OLD COVENANT
(OR OLD TESTAMENT LAW)
REMAINED IN AUTHORITY.
The New Covenant that Jesus Christ came to initiate was “the many things” that He couldn’t tell His disciples while He was still alive during His ministry on earth. The phrase ‘many things’ also means ‘a lot of things’. Any way you look at it, Jesus alerts His audience to another major story that’s hidden in a mystery that He said couldn’t be revealed before the cross.
Christ had a good reason to withhold the revelation about His New Covenant. Years later, the apostle Paul gives us the reason for the Lord's action.
"However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8 NKJV)
The "rulers of this age" that Paul speaks of here are "high order" demonic spirits, which were responsible for planning and orchestrating Christ's crucifixion ‘behind the scene’. These demonic ‘ruling spirits’ were the ones manipulating and controlling the earthy human authorities, who actually performed the act. If Jesus and His disciples (during His earthly ministry) went around preaching the details of the yet future New Covenant - Paul said that these demonic spirits would have never crucified Christ. Why? The New Covenant in Christ's blood (Luke 22:20 and 1 Corinthians 11:25) was God's secret plan (Paul called it "hidden wisdom") to utterly destroy Satan's dominion over the human race. Christ's crucifixion was the centerpiece of God's plan. The New Covenant couldn't become reality without the crucifixion of our Lord. As a result of Christ's "information blackout" Satan and his demonic world didn't learn about their mistake until it was too late.
A vast majority of Christendom thinks that Jesus revealed everything about our salvation in the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) that record His earthly ministry. Yet, both Jesus our Lord and the apostle Paul said that this was not the case.
We hope this Bible study was
helpful in your relationship
with the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is Part 3 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriatle link to access
the other parts.
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