Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 34
Now back to the Book of Galatians Chapter 4 and we’ll pick up with verse 6. Now remember what we just saw in the last lesson, that when God, at the proper time, at the exact moment, made of the woman, came into the human experience at His first coming and went the way of the Cross that He might redeem not just Israel, but the whole human race. And now there is not a soul living that hasn’t gotten the opportunity for salvation.
Here in this verse he’s going to come back to show these Galatians, as well as ourselves, the opportunity that we have as believers. Now he’s not talking about salvation, but rather our position after salvation, and what a great thing it is to enjoy these doctrinal truths even short of glory itself. You know I’ve said so often that salvation isn’t just a fire escape, but most people think of it as such. They want to get saved so that they won’t go to Hell. Well that’s all part of it, but that’s not the most important part. The most important part is God is with us here and now, and He can help us avoid all the pitfalls of life. My goodness, I’ve told you before that I’m not a counselor, but people call and you wonder how can they get into such horrible circumstances.
Well it’s because they evidently never understood that the answer to all of life’s dilemmas are right here in this Book. It’s all in here, and all we have to do is be obedient to the things of God and we’ll avoid most of those. I won’t say we’ll avoid them all because after all we’re flesh and human, but we can avoid so much if we just understand our position as believers. And as the Lord said in His earthly ministry that He came to give us life and so that we might have it more abundantly. And that holds, this is still His whole concept that we can have eternal life, but even in the physical we can have it more abundantly.
“And because ye are sons, (sons of whom? Well sons of God – we’re now the born ones as a result of our salvation. And since we’re sons) God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”
When it comes to the spiritual, God is the One who precipitates all the action. We don’t! You know recently I had a chance to visit with an Orthodox Jew and it was a thrilling experience (with his black robed clothes, steeped in the Law of Moses). My we just had a royal time. I’ll never forget that I brought him up in his memory to when Israel stood on the shores of the Red Sea, and I asked him how much could those Israelites do? Well he just sort of looked blank. I said, “They did nothing! The Egyptian army was behind them, mountains on the right, obstacles on the left, and the Red Sea in front of them. And did God say, “Well hurry up and do something?” No. He didn’t even tell them to get down and go through some rituals and gyrations and all of this, but rather all He told them was what? “Stand still, don’t do anything.”
Just wait for the power of God. And what happened? The Red Sea opened up, and He led them through on dry ground. You see it’s the same way today. People try to do this and that, they work, and they attempt to please God, and they try to keep the commandments, and they want to do, do, do, but God keeps saying, “Stand still.” Don’t do anything but believe the Gospel for your salvation, that it’s all been done for you. So here again because of our position after believing faith, God is the One who precipitates the action.
“…God hath sent forth the Spirit (the Holy Spirit of promise) of his Son into your hearts, (notice it’s the heart, and not the denomination or church building. In other words, you don’t pick up the Spirit when you walk through the door on Sunday morning, but rather the Spirit is in the heart of every believer.) crying, `Abba, Father.'”
Now we have that full privilege of approaching God as our heavenly Father. The unsaved world can’t do that. Oh they can but they won’t accomplish anything by it. But you and I as believers can come right into the throne room now and call Him Father. As Paul teaches we can come with all of our petitions, and requests. Nothing withheld, not on our merit, but because of that finished work of the Cross. So here we have our position as born ones because of our salvation and then immediately God does the doing by sending forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts and in response to that, through the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit, we have every right in the world to call Him, Abba Father. Now look at verse 7 –
“Wherefore thou art no more a servant, (slave) but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
Remember how many times Paul likes to use that word, “wherefore.” I don’t think you ever find that word in Peter’s preaching, or even in the Lord’s ministry. But Paul uses it over and over. Why? Because Paul’s is a progressive revelation. He is constantly building and so when he’s covered this ground he says “wherefore” or “therefore.” And he’ll go a little further and he’ll stop and will say, “wherefore” or “therefore.” Well, here’s another one. Now then he says “wherefore,” because of all he’s unveiled in these previous chapters. He says you’re not even a little child that’s under tutors, but a what? A Son. A full-blown son in full partnership with the Father.
Now again I think I did this in the last taping. I’ll never forget one of the first times we went to Israel, and this goes back a few years. Iris had a lot of souvenirs to pick up for friends and relatives. So she waited until we got to this one huge souvenir store and there were very few customers in there that day. In fact, we were the only ones in there that day. Here was this little 12 or 13 year old boy behind the counter and Iris had all of her stuff collected and so they start adding up. And she begins to bargain. And let me tell you she is the world’s best! And she kept bringing that kid down and down and finally he just put his hand on the counter and said, “That’s it.” I could tell that the father was sitting over there in a little room, through a door. And so I was seeing all of this go on and I was being amused. So I go back to the old gentleman and said, “Do you speak English?” And he said, “Oh yes.” And I said, “Are you going to let that little fella do that?” And you know what his answer was? He said, “He’s never lost a dime yet!”
He knew what he was doing. He had become a full partner in the business and the father just let him go, even though he was up against a pretty good bargainer. And so here it is. We’re no more a little kid under tutors now as believers, we are in a full-blown position as the final tutored son of these parents. We are a full heir. And if you’re in that place of maturity that adoption has placed you, then you’re an heir. Can you imagine how many young people just almost revel at the fact that they are an heir of some wealthy rich grandfather and they are almost sub-consciously waiting for the old gentleman to pass on, so that they can cash in on all of his wealth because they know they are an heir.
But listen, we’ve got something far better! I don’t have a rich uncle or anybody that I can wait for them to die. But listen, I can be anticipating this one. Because I am a joint heir. You as a believer, are a joint heir with God Himself. Now let’s go back to Romans Chapter 8, and this isn’t a slip of Paul’s pen. He says it over and over that this is part and parcel of Pauline doctrine. And here it is in Romans. You see, I like to use more than one portion because I’ve accused people sometimes of building all their doctrine on one or two verses. There isn’t any thinner ice anywhere in the world than to do something like that. That’s why I try to use as much Scripture as possible. This wasn’t just a unique point in Paul’s writing. It’s everything else that he’s written.
“For as many (or all of you) as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
Listen, that’s very exclusive to us. I get a kick out of the Biblical Archeological Review letters of the editor. Because some of these people write in and condemn people for being exclusionists. Of course we are, because the Bible is! And what’s it excluding here? Lost people are not led by the Holy Spirit. They’re out there on their own under the power of the god of this world. But believers are led by the Spirit of God. That’s one of the indications that we have true salvation.
I had a letter the other day and it was a good question. “How can I know that I’m truly saved?” It’s a good question. I wrote back and said, “There are several ways: 1. Do you have a hunger for the Word of God? If not I doubt if there’s any true salvation because it just follows like daylight following dark, that when we become a child of God we hunger after His word. 2. Do you enjoy being with God’s people? If you don’t, then there’s something wrong and I would re-examine my so-called salvation experience. 3. Do you enjoy prayer time, and taking your needs to the Lord? If not, I doubt if there’s any relationship there.”
But whatever, it’s a thing of the heart and I can’t look on the heart nor can anyone else, but you can self-examine. And I think it’s Peter who wrote, “make your call and election sure.”Well, what did he mean by that? Don’t work a little harder, but just simply on the light of Scripture, examine yourself. Are you just depending on something that you have done, or are you depending on a solid faith in the Gospel wherein the power of God has been exercised? And when that happens, here it comes, as we saw in Galatians and now here in Romans, the Holy Spirit comes into our life and He begins to lead and guide and direct to the place where we don’t have to have rules and regulations. The Spirit does that. Now here again, if we’re led by the Spirit of God then we are the sons, or the born ones of God. That’s one of the proofs of footing. Now let’s go to verse 15 and again he’s talking to believers here.
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to (what?) fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father.”
Believers don’t have to walk around in constant fear. We have respect for God and we revere Him, but we don’t have to fear Him. Because we know He loves us. In fact, I’ll never forget, and I think I mentioned this on a program a long time ago, somebody sent me a tape of their pastor’s Sunday morning sermon. I learned a bunch from it. And that was that in John Chapter 13, where Jesus was dealing with Martha and Mary and Lazarus, all through that chapter, it wasn’t how much Lazarus and Mary loved Jesus, but what was it? How much He loved them! And it was an eye-opener! And this is what people have to realize. It isn’t dependent upon how much I love Him, although we’re certainly going to love Him. But you see, the thing that’s important is that we realize how much He loves us! Enough to die and suffer for us. Now then, when we have that kind of a salvation, the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
Now do you see how that flies in the face of these people who say you can never really know? They say you can hope so or you can try and do the best you can, but you’ll never really know? That’s not what my Bible says. My Bible makes it so plain and mine is no different than anybody else’s. But it makes it so plain that we can know that we have passed from death unto life. And here is another one. It’s the witness of the Holy Spirit that we have that salvation, we have that we are children of God. Now let’s look at verse 17.
“And if children, (true sons of God by virtue of our saving faith) then heirs; (not of some rich grandfather, or of some corporation president with millions and millions of shares. We’ve got something far greater) heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
That’s just what it says in Galatians. We are heirs of God and now to bring it even tighter, we are joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. Now, I don’t have to tell adults like you what it is to be a joint-heir. If any of you own a home or property and both of you are owners, what are you? You’re joint-heirs. You both have rights to that property. If one of you pass off the scene, the property belongs to the one that’s left behind, regardless of which one goes first. Now the whole concept of joint heirship is part and parcel of the Christian experience. We are heirs of God because we are joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. That may mean we will suffer with Him and we may also experience that glorification with Him. Now back to Galatians once again. And verse 7 is in complete agreement with Romans Chapter 8.
“Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” We are a son. A one in full heirship – an heir of God through Christ. Now verse 8.
“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are not gods.”
Now I’ve stressed, especially since our time in the Mediterranean last spring, that as we re-traced so many areas in which the apostle Paul labored in, and we saw the gross idolatry, the gross mythology, these are the places where Paul earned his converts, and how the man must have been constantly subjected to all the immorality of that ancient world. It’s beyond me. And yet he never slowed down or stopped proclaiming the Gospel and out of that gross immoral pagan world, he got trophies for God’s Grace. I was explaining this to someone Sunday afternoon, we had a group of college kids, and they had a long list of questions.
And one of the points that I made was, isn’t it amazing that these new converts of Paul’s Gospel came out of the immorality of the pagan worship of gods and goddess. They came into a salvation experience and almost immediately had to be martyred for their faith. Now think of that. They hadn’t been saturated for 50 years in Christianity like you and I have been. But even as new believers just recently saved out of all that background and they died for their faith. They didn’t go back into their paganism although I think it would have been awfully easy to do.
But you see, if you look at that and then compare that with Christianity today, how many professing Christians today, even after having been taught and tutored for 25 -40 years, if that kind of persecution came that their life was on the line, how many would stay with it? You ask yourself, how many? Next Sunday morning when you’re sitting in church and I don’t care what church it is, and I can do the same thing with mine, you look out over that congregation, how many, if all of a sudden a heavy hand of persecution would fall and we would have to literally give up our life for our faith; how many of that congregation would go with us? I think we would be kind of surprised.
But you see this is what Paul is talking about, that all of his converts not only in Galatia, but also in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Rome and any other place that Paul ministered and had these converts out of paganism, they immediately came under the pressure of persecution. We covered that when we were back in the Corinthian letters. This is the main reason that he didn’t really encourage marriage because it’s so much easier to die for your faith if you’re single than if you have a loved one to worry about. I think that was his only reason for being against marriage. But here look at it –
“…when ye knew not God, (they were steeped in pagan darkness Paul says) ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.” See, they worshipped these pagan gods who, by nature when you boil everything down, they weren’t gods at all. They were nothing but a piece of wood or stone, but now verse 9, and here is another one of my favorite words.
“But (they’re no longer in that paganism, they’re no longer worshipping wood and stone, but) now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, (God knows them personally now because they’re His. They’re His children and Paul says if you are in such a glorified position ) how turn ye again to the weak, and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?”
Now what does it mean to be beggarly? Well just exactly what the word implies. It’s to be just sort of groveling, and just begging for mercy. And that’s all these things were, they were beggarly, and weak and had absolutely no power to lift these people out of their bondage, and out of their paganism. Then why turn back to something that is no good? Now we’ve been studying the Book of Hebrews in our Muskogee class, and all through the Book of Hebrews, what’s the comparison? The things that were good, and they were. But we’ve got things that are so much better. A thousand times better, and so here Paul is responding, “Why, when you’ve had it so good, you’re feet have been planted on something solid, you’re an heir with God, you have the Holy Spirit to direct you, then why turn back to that which is beggarly?” Well what’s he talking about? The Law, legalism, and legalism is beggarly. It is a dust groveling system, and if people could see that. Legalism is just putting people literally crawling in the dust, and begging that, “Somehow I can make it.”
You know just before we left for Indiana last week I had quite an experience. In our mail was the sweetest letter from a dear lady who had come out of some of the most rigid religious background and I won’t even name it here. This lady lives in Pennsylvania and she had just gloried now in the Grace of our message. So while in Indiana I was sharing some of the points of the letter with my crowd in Indiana and who should walk up at break time but this very lady who had come clear from Pennsylvania. Now you talk about somebody that was now living in such freedom, and such Grace, and such joy, she was so excited, and I’m excited for her.
But listen, this was just the opposite of what the Galatians were doing. The Galatians were going back into that stuff, if I may call it that. And they were giving up their freedom and joy and letting themselves get wrapped up again in legalism and Law-keeping. Paul says how, “can you desire again to be in bondage?” It is hard to understand that isn’t it? And yet that’s the human race. Even tonight the whole human race for the most part is just simply groveling in legalism, and good works trying to keep the Ten Commandments, and not realizing that when Christ died, He paid it all. And all that I can hope for is for God to open the hearts of people to the fact that Christ has paid it all.