Paul's Authority and Gospel

Paul's Authority and Gospel

Scripture: Galatians 1:10, 2 Peter 3:15-16, Galatians 5:12
Date: 07/08/2017  Lesson: 2
"Why does Paul say it is impossible to be a follower of Christ while trying to please people?"

Adam's Synchronological Chart or Map of History by Sebastian Adams

Adam's Synchronological Chart or Map of History by Sebastian Adams
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Hello, friends, and welcome to Sabbath School Study Hour coming to you here from the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church near Sacramento, California. I'd like to welcome our online members and also those who are watching on the various television networks across the country and around the world. We're just delighted that you've chosen to study God's Word with us this morning. And also to our members and visitors right here at the Granite Bay church, always good to see you week after week. Thank you for coming out to study during Sabbath school.

Our Sabbath school lesson quarterly deals with the book of Galatians and today we're on lesson #2 entitled Paul's authority and the Gospel. But, before we get to our study, I'd like to let you know about a free offer that we have, a book entitled satan's confusing counterfeits. And, for those watching in North America, if you'd like to receive a free copy of this book, call us on our resource phone number. That number is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #191. That number, again, is -788-3966 - ask for offer #191 a book entitled satan's confusing counterfeits - and we'll be happy to send this to anybody (in North America) who calls and asks.

For those outside of north America, if you'd like to read the book, just go to the amazing facts website: amazingfacts.org and you can download a copy of the book and read it for free right there online. Well, before we get to our study this morning, as we normally do, we'd like to begin by lifting our voices in song and I'd like to invite our song leaders to come out and join me onstage. Thank you, Pastor Ross, we are excited to open up hymnals and sing with you wherever you are - our extended family around the world - we know you love the same songs that we do and so we are going to start with one of our favorites, #229 - all hail the power of Jesus' Name - we're going to do the first, second, and fourth stanzas - #229. Thank you so much for singing along with us here and those of you at home. And, at this time, pastor ross'll be having our opening prayer.

Let's bow our heads for a word of prayer. Dear Father in Heaven, what a privilege to be able to open up Your Word and study this morning. We want to invite your presence to come and move upon our hearts and our minds. Lord, we know there are so many important lessons relevant for us today in this very important book, the book of Galatians, so guide our thoughts for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson this morning is going to be brought to us by pastor doug.

Thank you, Pastor Ross, and our musicians and singers. Morning everybody. I want to welcome our friends that are studying with us, those who are part of our international class, as well as those who may be some of our online members. We've got a lot of people that are out there. We meet them as we travel.

They say there is no local Seventh-day Adventist Church we can attend, for some reason - some are shut ins and they say, you know, 'how do we become one of your online members?' We try to connect with those people as well as you can, even though there's distance. And so, we want to welcome them as well. We have a very interesting lesson today. We're going through our new quarterly dealing with Galatians. This is my first chance to teach because I was gone last week, so I'm going to be going into lesson #2 that's talking about Paul's authority in the Gospel.

And we have a memory verse - memory verse is from Galatians , verse 10 - if you've got your Bibles you can follow along with me - Galatians 1:10 - and this is from the new king James version. Are you ready? "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." Can you be a bondservant of Christ and live to please men? No, that doesn't work very well. And so, boy, there's a lot of - this is a very strong book. Now just a little background: galatia is a region that you would find between syria and greece. It's in the area of modern turkey today, but it wasn't all of turkey.

We get the name 'Galatians' because there were some of the celtic people that had - the Romans referred to them as barbarians and for years the Romans battled the barbarian celtic people, sometimes known as the gauls. And they finally got them to behave themselves but they restricted them to an area a little north of the mediterranean there in turkey and a little bit south of the other sea to the north and they call that area the area of the gauls or the Galatians. And Paul, on his missionary trip, made several forays through that area preaching and raised up some churches. And we'll talk more about that. Now, the book of Galatians, the oldest copy we have of the book of Galatians - there's a few pieces missing - I think it's called p 46 and that means papyrus 46 - is from 200 ad.

Now that's pretty good. If you have a Scripture that dates back to 200 ad, that means it was only 150 older than when it was written. For instance, today, we're 150 years after Abraham lincoln, but we feel pretty confident the things that were written by Abraham lincoln, we have accurate copies. And there were still enough witnesses of witnesses around that you can get a pretty good idea. Well, when the book of Galatians was written, nobody questioned that it was written by Paul and that it was an authentic book.

But it is a unique book. The book of Galatians is the only book of all of Paul's letters - and, you know, he wrote nearly half of the new testament - that he writes to the churches. The other books are written to groups - or to a specific church or to Timothy or Philemon or Titus. So - but this one is specifically written and addressed to the churches of galatia. Now, you look in acts 16, you're going to find two examples in the book of acts when Paul made these journeys through the area of galatia and he began to raise up those churches.

It's kind of interesting because one's acts 16:6 and the other's acts 18:23. In one it says, "now when they had gone through phrygia and the region of galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in asia." The next one, acts 18:23 it says, "after he had spent some time there, he departed and went over the region of galatia and phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples." So it's talking about he's doing a regional work - he's in this region - he went to several churches in that region - the first one, you notice, it says phrygia/galatia; the other one it says galatia/phrygia. Why? Because he preached this way on the way to rome - or that direction - and then he preached this way on the way back. So on the reverse journey he hit them in reverse. That's why they're mentioned that way.

So you've got the record there in the Bible, provided by Luke, that tells about his ministry there. Now, when we get into the beginning - and this is under the section for the first day, Paul, the letter writer. There's something different - it's kind of interesting, we just got done studying 1 and 2 Peter and I dwelt on this verse, but it really plays here. Peter 3:15 and 16 - Peter, here, says, "and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation - as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles," - so even in the time of Peter, was Paul known as a prolific writer? Yes. He doesn't say, 'Paul's epistle', he says, his 'epistles'.

"As also in all of his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand," - again, only time in the Bible you really have one Bible writer, under inspiration, saying that the writings of another Bible writer can be difficult to understand. It doesn't say they're not true, just saying they're deep - which those who are untaught and unstable "twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures." The other important thing here - he's calling Paul's epistles Scripture. And so that's pretty clear - some of the higher critics, they dismiss some of Paul's writings. They say, 'oh well, you know, you can't take Paul seriously here or there and he was just ranting and he didn't really mean it. But I believe all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, amen? Amen.

Alright, so someone is going to read for me, in just a moment, Colossians 4:16. You'll have that hafdis? Okay. Before you do, I'm going to read - now we're looking at some of the introductions that Paul has in some of his letters. If you look, for instance, in 1 Thessalonians 5:27 - I'm not in the - I'm not talking, rather, about the introductions, but that - the purpose of his letters. Thessalonians 5:27 Paul said, 'I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren.

Now how did they communicate truth back then? You know, we got a neat feature - many of you who are members here and some of our online members, have sent in your e-mail, so if there's some important event, we just do a batch e-mail and write a little note, with a click of a button, it pops up, you all get the message. Kind of neat. Sometimes they want to communicate - people will do it through tv. Some child goes missing, they've got billboards on the highway. They call them amber alerts.

We've got a lot of modern sophisticated words of doing mass communication. But, in Bible times, if you wanted to get a message out to a region of churches, what did you do? You wrote a letter. They didn't have printing presses. You either had to have, then, scribes - and not everyone could even write - that would re-write that letter and circulate it - any of you remember the old mimeograph machines where you had like a blue copy and you'd crank it? And once you made the blue copy, all the copies came out in blue. And do you all remember the carbon copies? I used to be - I was a company clerk in military school and I'd type things where you couldn't do more than three - you put three pages in your typewriter on this carbon paper - and every letter that you punch - how many of you remember? You had to slam it or it didn't make three copies.

So you're typing - pop - pop - pop - every letter. Then you'd get three copies of your letter. Then they got the xerox machine. And now we've got the high speed copiers and high speed press and the digital communication. Back then it was a lot tougher.

I mean, even paper - or papyrus - or the vellum - the skin they wrote on was hard to come by. So he said, 'look, if I'm going to write a letter, read it to all of the churches. He wanted to make sure the message got out there. Go ahead, read, for us, Colossians 4:16. "Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from laodicea.

" So he tells them several times, 'read, read, read - this letter's no good unless you read it. Spread it around.' And if you go to 2 Thessalonians 3:14, "and if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed." So it wasn't just a letter that was just kind of giving trivial information; when they wrote an epistle - Peter calls it Scripture. Paul is saying, 'if you don't listen to this epistle, this is the law of the land for the church" - these epistles from the apostles were very important. Alright, and then the book of Revelation - who is it written to? The saints. Revelation 1, "I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, what you see write in a book and send it to the seven churches that are in asia" - and he says ephesus, smyrna, pergAmos, thyatira, sardis, phladellphia, and laodicea - so even Jesus, in the book of Revelation, through John, he says, 'I'm giving you an authorized letter - this epistle - this prophecy - read it to them.

Spread it around.' Alright, next section - we're going to talk a little bit about Paul's calling and, actually, we're delving now, after last week's introduction and my introduction, we're actually getting into chapter 1. My mission today, if you should choose to accept it, is to cover chapter 1 of Galatians. And I'm sure there'll be times we back up, but we're going to try to cover chapter of Galatians. So Galatians 1:1 and 2, "Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God The Father who raised him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of galatia:" - so he starts with an introduction. And, you know, it was pretty typical back then, for them to begin their letters with a salutation that says who is this from and who is it to - that's normal.

Now, you notice that he makes a point that I think a lot of people miss here, in the first verse, "an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ...)" - Why does he distinguish Jesus Christ from man? Was Jesus Christ just a man? Or was Jesus more than a man? He said, 'this isn't from man. It isn't through man, it's through Jesus.' See, I believe Jesus is God The Son; what you would call the second member of the trinity. And so, this is one of the places where you're using, I guess, at least a circumstantial argument that Paul is saying Jesus is not just a man. Okay? And he says, "Jesus [Christ] and God The Father" - again, making a distinction - "who raised him from the dead" - through God the spirit - "and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches" - not one church, but - "the churches of galatia:" - now, when you read in the Bible, you'll find there are four churches that we know of that Paul visited at least three times on - you've heard of the - any of you - you got maps in your Bible? Some of you? Some of you, in your Bibles, will have maps that will have a map that talks about Paul's missionary journeys. And you'll notice, on that map, some of you're checking right now to see if you have those.

You'll notice on that map they'll like, sometimes, a good one'll have three different colored lines and the blue is his first journey and the yellow is second journey and the red's his third journey. And you can see - because he tells where they went - some of it is still mysterious, but we know a number of places he went. On all three of those journeys, he went to lystra, derbe, iconium, and the antioch - it's called the pisidian antioch - there were two places called antioch. This is the one that was in galatia. So there's four cities of galatia he went to at least three times: lystra, derbe, iconium, and pisidian antioch.

Now there may have been others that aren't mentioned. There may have been other smaller groups, but we know of at least those four. And so, he's writing and he's sending the letters to be read among these churches. Acts 9:15 - what is - what is Paul giving as his criteria to write this epistle with authority? Paul is getting ready to pull rank. I don't know any other way to say it.

Let me back up and tell you what happened. He raised up these churches. He went through great suffering to raise up these churches. It was in connection with these churches they nearly stoned him to death. Some argued they did stone him to death and God raised him up - it's hard to prove one way or the other.

They thought he was dead and he just got up. Maybe they should have been praying the Lord raised him, but since they didn't pray, God just did it. But anyway, he went through great suffering to raise up these churches. He spent a lot of time with them. He was struggling physically when it happened - we'll show you that later.

And then after he leaves town - do you remember where Paul says, 'I know that after my departure grievous wolves will come in among you not sparing the sheep to raise up disciples after themselves.' That very thing happened in galatia. After Paul left, some other believers in Jesus, who were probably from among the pharisees or, at least they were Jewish believers in Jesus, they started showing up in galatia and said, 'hey, what's up guys? You're not keeping the laws of Moses and you're not practicing circumcision.' And they - and these, you know, new believers are vulnerable and they started having Bible studies and telling them, 'oh, look, you've got to do these things.' And then they got so involved in pharisaical legalism that when Paul heard what was going on there he's going, 'oh no, have you so soon departed from the faith?' So he's getting ready, basically, to lower the hammer on them and you'll see in what we even read in chapter 1, the first thing he has to do is say, 'what authority do I have to say what I'm about to say?' You see where he's coming from? 'What right do I have?' So Paul is saying, 'I'm an apostle.' Now what - what does the word 'apostle' mean? Who knows? You've been saying that all your life and don't even know what it means. An apostle is someone who is sent - an emissary, a messenger, an ambassador in behalf of someone else. It's a very simple, very basic word used many times. But for the Christian church, when they say apostle, they generally were thinking of the original twelve who Jesus set aside - he appointed - he ordained.

One of them committed suicide. The disciples went through a ceremony casting lots. They replaced Judas with matthias. You never really hear of matthias other than acts chapter 1, but God seemed to pick another apostle, if not two. One being Paul, another being apollos.

Now how did God pick Paul? Do you know, in order to be an apostle you needed to have - you needed to be personally chosen by Jesus. Did Paul have a personal encounter with Jesus? And you needed to be personally taught by Jesus. Paul said, 'I wasn't taught by man, but I was taught by God.' God gave Paul divine Revelation and knowledge. We in the adventist movement believe the Lord, in a special way, instructed Ellen white. There was unique instruction beyond what you would get through book learning - supernaturally revealed.

Paul had supernatural Revelations from Jesus. That's why he said, 'not taught of man but taught by Jesus' and he says, 'I'm not an apostle from man or through man, but through Jesus Christ.' And you can read where Paul says, 'I knew a man who saw things caught up to the third heaven you can't even utter.' He was talking about himself. And he goes on to say that - he qualifies himself that he's an apostle - look in acts 9:15 when he tells ananias Paul's had this vision on the road to damascus and Jesus speaks to ananias and says, "go, for he is a chosen vessel of mine to bear my name before gentiles, Kings, and the children of Israel." - Not just an apostle to the gentiles, but also the children of Israel - "for I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name's sake." So Paul goes through a lot of suffering. Now someone's going to read for me Galatians 6:17 - kelly you'll have that? Okay. I want to read to you Galatians , verses 12 and 13, "brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you.

You have not injured mme at all. You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the Gospel to you at the first." And so he talks about being injured. He talks about physical infirmity. Then you read in Galatians 5:2 and 3 - he, again, invokes 'it is me, I am an authorized apostle.' "Indeed, i, Paul say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing." And, again, "I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law." So when he gives them a command - he says, 'you're going back to this - these old types and shadows' - he said, 'you're getting this from me.' And he makes some very strong statements. Go ahead, read for us Galatians 6:17.

Galatians 6:17, "from henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the Marks of the Lord Jesus." Alright, so, you notice, even here in the very end of Galatians, Paul is talking about when he was whipped. Do you know that would scar you? Paul says he was whipped 39 times three times in his life, if you could imagine that. So he was scarred. When you were stoned you might get scarred. And a lot of the sufferings happened to Paul when he was going through that part of asia.

And so, he's telling the Galatians - he's saying, 'look' - he's using the same thing that touched him in serving Jesus. He saw how much Jesus suffered for him so he loved Jesus and he listened. Paul is saying, 'look how much I've suffered for you.' See what he's doing? He says, 'if you love me, listen to my command.' And so he's making these commands to them not to fall back into this old legalism that they had been delivered from. And then a couple of other verses real quick where it talks about other introductions of Paul's letters where he talks about his qualifications. You can read in Ephesians 1:1, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:" - so his opening salutation to the Galatians is a little bit longer but, again, he's using this same language.

You can go again to Philippians :1, "Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:" now, something you notice, when he makes his introductions - matter of fact, I'll save that for the next section. If you go over to Paul's Gospel - go to Galatians 1. We're going to read verses 3 through 5, "grace to you and peace from God The Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." Well, there you have it, friends. You've got the whole Gospel in three verses.

Did you notice that? He says 'grace and peace', so he's basically saying 'it is through grace we find peace' - through the grace of God we find shalom. He's using a word that was often used in writing to the Greeks and he's using a word that was in every Jewish letter - all the Jewish letters. You know, in Hebrew, the word 'shalom' is like 'aloha' in Hawaii. How many of you have been to Hawaii? They say, 'aloha' when you come and they say 'aloha' when you're going. It just sort of meant 'love' and in Hebrew they'd say 'shalom' and they'd say 'shalom' hello and they'd say 'shalom' goodbye.

And so, Paul is using a greeting of grace and peace that was very common back then in both those worlds. So he says 'grace and peace from God The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins' - why did he die? He gave his life for our sins. Why? That he might deliver us. What do we say in the Lord's prayer? 'Deliver us from evil' - from this present evil age - 'according to the will of our God' - it's God's will that we be saved; it's not God's will that any should perish - 'our God and father to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

' Even the Lord's prayer ends that way too. So the word 'grace', it's a similar sounding word to 'charis' - I think that's related to the word 'charity' too. You look in Ephesians 1:2, "grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:2, "grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Colossians 1, verse 2, "to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in colosse: grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Now any of you, when you use your computer, use the cut and copy feature - cut and paste? - Copy and paste feature, you know? A lot of times, if I want to - well, when I do it when I get these notes, I go to the Bible - I've got the digital Bible and I copy the verses I want - I cut 'em and I paste 'em in my notes so, instead of flipping through the Bible, I save time by printing out the verses here. You always wonder, 'why is he not reading out of his Bible?' Well, I printed all the verses I want to read here - copy/paste. Paul does a copy/paste.

All of his letters introduce - are introduced - not all, but many of them - with this word-for-word greeting, 'grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.' So I expect to hear all of you greet each other that way after church. And in all your letters, from now on, you've got - in the mouth of two or three witnesses - you wonder - that'd be kind of a long greeting, huh? But this is how he did it. Now we're going to dive into the - some of the tough stuff in this book. The next verses - verses 1 - chapter 1, verses 6 through 9 - he does not - he gives a nice introduction, by the time he gets to - there's about six chapters in the book - by the time he gets to verse 6, he basically takes off the gloves and he gets right to his concern. "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from him" - well that right there ought to arrest their attention - saying 'what's happening now is you're turning away from' - who's the him? My Bible says capital h-i-m - it's talking about God The Son, Jesus - you're turning away from him.

They're going 'what?' - 'I marvel' - 'I'm amazed that you're turning away from him "who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different Gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Gospel of Christ. Now do we have that problem in the world today? Do we have that problem in the church today? Amen. There are two extremes - it also says this in the book steps to Christ - there are typically two extremes that you have in the Christian church, into which people fall - they're two ditches. You can be a pharisee or a sadducee. You've got the right or the left, we say in our culture.

You've got those who believe in righteousness through legalism and then those who believe in righteousness through presumption. One group believes they're going to work their way to the kingdom, the other group believes, 'because we're saved by grace, I'm just going to continue in sin, feel no remorse for my sin, and just say a little prayer and go on my merry way.' And they live worldly lives. You've got those two extremes. Well, Paul, now is dealing with the former - the legalism that had crept in here. And it's often brought by people who come and they preach a false Gospel.

'There are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Gospel of Christ, but' - and listen to the language - he says, 'but even if we or an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel to you than that which we have preached to you - that Gospel that we first preached to you that changed your life and brought about your conversion - let him be accursed.' That's pretty strong language. It's strong language for the listener and it's strong language for the speaker. Paul is saying, 'I've got a responsibility to preach the right Gospel because if I'm preaching the wrong Gospel, not only am I responsible for you potentially being lost, but I will be lost. And I'm even worse accountable in the judgment because I'm influencing many others. Paul is saying, 'if anybody's preaching the wrong Gospel, they will be accursed.

It's pretty serious - there's no stronger term that he can use. And he's saying, 'you'll be lost for listening to it because it's not the true Gospel, it's a false Gospel and there's plenty of false Gospels and they're not going to save anybody. And, by the way, I hear people every now and then calling the true Gospel the false Gospel. So you can call anything anything you want - you can spin it - I know that there are some other ministers out there that would call what I believe the false Gospel - and I call what they believe the false Gospel. And everybody says, 'I've got the real thing.

' So how do you know? Paul says, 'if you are believing anything other than what I first shared with you' - and that's contained in the Gospel in the epistles, which are the inspired word of the apostles - he said, 'let them be accursed. It says, 'even if we or an angel from heaven'. Someone's going to read for me 2 Corinthians 11:14. Alright, katrina? I think we're probably ready for that. Why does Paul - why does Paul warn against 'even if an angel from heaven'? Go ahead.

2 Corinthians :14, "and no wonder! For satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light." Now don't miss the point that in Revelation, the message of Revelation is given to the seeven angels of the seven churches. And some have wondered, is that talking about the messengers of the churches, like in the pastors of the churches? Are these seven angels? But you'll find, sometimes, in the new testament, the word for 'angel' and 'messenger' are interchangeable. Can satan be transformed into an angel of light? Yes. When the devil came to tempt Jesus in the wilderness - in our message later today, we're talking about temptation and this may come up again. But when the devil came to tempt Jesus in the wilderness - I've seen artists - the - display this before, where Jesus is out in the wilderness and he looks famished and hungry and thirsty and, leaning over his shoulder, is this typical satanic-looking creature, you know, the devil, and he's got the - he's got the goatee and he's, you know, got the sharp ears - it looks like a vulcan - and he's got, you know, the high forehead and the little pinacle of hair that comes down real sharp - it makes him look sinister.

And, sometimes, you know, bat wings and all kinds of things. And, if you were Jesus in the wilderness and you're going through temptation and this creature plops down in front of you, and he's got red leotards on and, you know, he looks like these typical pictures of the devil and he says, 'look, I've got a proposition for you.' Who would listen to anybody looking like that? How do you think the devil appeared to Christ? As an angel of light. He said, 'I've been sent from The Father. I've got words for encouragement. You just need tto demonstrate you still believe you're The Son of God and, if you're the Son of God, do this miracle.

' And so, it's very it was very subtle. He thought, 'oh, well, this looks like an angel. So even when he came to Jesus, he appeared as an angel of light. Do counterfeit preachers look like the devil or are they sometimes - they're eloquent, they're good looking, they do share some truth, they smile, they seem loving, they seem sincere? Every false religion and every false Gospel has good things to it and that's what makes it attractive. If you're going to poison somebody, you don't just hand them a brown bottle with a label that has a skull and crossbones on it and say, 'here, would you like some poison.

Nobody's going to go for that. What you do is you take something that's very good and nutritious and appetizing and you put a little poison in what's appetizing. Most false Gospels have a lot of good things, but then they've got a doctrine buried in there that is lethal. And so, Paul - many of the things that Paul taught they still believed, but something false had been introduced that was distracting them. And - what was it? What was the main - who knows what's the main thing in the book of Galatians that became the big issue? When Seventh-day Adventists hear Galatians, we're often hearing Galatians read to us because we talk about keeping the ten commandments and they quote the parts of Galatians where Paul talks about the law - not being under the law - in the context of Sabbath keeping.

How many times is the word 'Sabbath' used in the book of Galatians? Not at all. But what is the word that is used the most that was the point of controversy? Who knows? Circumcision. Circumcision. I think twelve or thirteen times you're going to find more than any other book in the Bible - maybe except old testament. Maybe even more than that.

Certainly more than any book in the new testament Paul talks about circumcision. There is no question about what the problem was. Let me give you just some verses so you get the background. Go with me to acts 15, verse 1. You ought to read this acts 15:1.

Sometimes you sit and listen to me teach and you don't really look anything up, but you might want to look this one up. "And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, 'unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.'" - Well, that would put circumcision right up there as a pretty important doctrine. Unless you do this, you cannot be saved. It's a salvation issue. You notice what they did? It says there were certain men that came from Judea and began to go to the churches where Paul had labored and barnabus had labored and they began to introduce this new teaching and it was tearing the churches apart.

So what was the teaching about? Was it the Sabbath or circumcision? They had no problem keeping the Sabbath, that was one of the Ten Commandments. Circumcision came later. It was a covenant with Abraham. Now, did they have a good argument? Did these judiazers or these pharisees who had converted to Christianity - by the way, Paul was a pharisee who converted to Christianity. He says, 'I was a pharisee of the pharisees.

Did they have good arguments for saying you should continue to practice circumcision? Let me read something to you. Go to Genesis 17:13. God says to Abraham, "he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant." It's an everlasting covenant. That was their argument. They said, 'well, everlasting covenant.

How do you get away from that?' Before I even answer that question, don't miss the part where Paul makes it very clear, 'circumcision is nothing, uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments is what matters.' Now I just quoted the Bible. That wasn't paraphrase. Paul says 'circumcision is nothing, uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments.' So does Paul make a difference between circumcision and the commandments? You got that? Is it wrong - is it against the law for a believer to be circumcised? Does Paul or anyone ever say that? No, that was optional. Matter of fact, Paul, realizing that Timothy not being circumcised, when Timothy began to preach with and alongside Paul, he said, 'this is going to be a stumbling block for other people'. Paul circumcised Timothy even though he was an adult, so it would no longer bother the jews where Paul went to minister.

It wasn't required, but he did it just so it wouldn't be an obstacle. You got that? And there may be some medical or health benefits, but there is no Bible command that you need to do that to be saved. Is that clear to everybody? Paul says, 'very, very clear.' Alright, can I bring this and make this relevant for us today? There are a lot of dear people in our church and some other churches that are saying that if you want to be saved you need to keep the Jewish feasts. Have you run into that? Yes. And, you know, they'll point to Exodus where it says that these feasts - and Leviticus - are everlasting covenants.

Same exact wording that it uses for circumcision. And they say, 'we need to keep the feast days.' Well, the feast days fall in the same category as circumcision. And this is why when you read - go with me in your Bible - this is a very relevant lesson today. Now, I don't question the sincerity of these people, but I think if Paul was alive today, he'd say to them the same thing he said to the Galatians 'why are you preaching another Gospel?' Look in Romans chapter 14 - if you've got your Bible. "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems ever day alike.

Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day to the Lord he does not observe it." What is Paul talking about? Is he talking about the Sabbath? No. No, I've heard people use this for the Sabbath. You know, it's interesting - this always strikes me as funny. I'll hear Sunday pastors, their members will learn the Sabbath truth and the Sunday pastors will point to this verse and say, 'if one man regards the day of the Lord, he regards the day of the Lord; if he doesn't, he doesn't.

' And I say, 'pastor, are you telling me I don't have to come to church Sunday anymore?' 'No, no, I didn't mean that.' So they never use that verse to talk about Sunday - that you can keep whatever day you want. You can come to church whenever you want. They talk to them when they learn the Sabbath truth. Is he talking about the seventh-day Sabbath or is he talking about ceremonial Sabbaths? He's not talking about the Sabbath that was part of the ten commandments that came every week, as part of a weekly cycle, he was talking about annual feasts that were part of an annual cycle. It was - he's not talking about the Ten Commandments that go all the way back to Genesis, before there was even sin.

You see, the Sabbath existed before man even sinned - part of God's perfect plan. He blessed and hallowed it way back in Genesis 2, right? Yes. The ceremonial Sabbaths, when did they come? They were connected with the deliverance of Israel. They were signs and shadows pointing to Jesus. Go with me to Colossians.

You know, I always hear these things quoted out of context. I just think it's encouraging to be able to quote these in context. If you go to Colossians chapter and you'll - you'll see that this was a problem all along the way here - here we go. I thought Colossians had left my Bible. Go to verse 13, "and you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh," - notice, he's making an allusion, right here, to what the big issue of the day was - "he has made alive together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requireements that was against us, which was contrary to us.

" By the way, the ceremonial laws were written on paper and placed in a pocket outside the ark. And Moses said that they might be a witness against you. He said that regarding the ceremonial laws. He says, 'taking' - and it was written by the hand of man, not by the finger of God - "...wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Having disarmed principalities and powers, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. So let no one judge you in food or in drink," - these things were connected with the sanctuary - and its food - drink offerings - food offerings - "or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths," - now we always stop there after 16, but you notice it's a comma; the sentence isn't done. It says don't let anyone judge you regarding "...Sabbaths, which are a shadow..." That's one sentence. Not any Sabbath, but the Sabbaths - notice it's not a big 's', it's a small 's'. The "Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come," - the only thing you can assume from a verse like this - what Sabbaths were shadows? The annual Sabbaths you find in Leviticus , talking about the feast days.

And so, I'm always saddened when I see, you know, churches get so distracted from the Gospel and the message we have and they start to say, 'no, we've got to go back and keep the Jewish feasts. These are everlasting covenants.' It is so clear from the Bible. The big problem that they had in acts - you look in acts chapter , verse 4, "and when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the pharisees who believed rose up saying, 'it is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.'" It became such a problem back in the early church, they had to have a church council in Jerusalem to settle that the gentiles did not need to practice those things. And so - but, you know, times haven't changed.

There are still believers that go around and they are preaching another Gospel with another emphasis and I notice they generally are not really winning souls off the street. They're - they go in among the established churches to create confusion. They don't go plant their own new church, they go among the established churches and this is what happened. Paul established these churches and, like wolves, they came in to exploit that and cause confusion. Alright, back to the lesson.

We're going to say more about that because I know we're going to get some questions on that later. The origin of Paul's Gospel - Galatians chapter 1, still - we're reading, now, verses 11 to 14, "but I make known to you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the Revelation of Jesus Christ." - I mentioned that earlier. Is there any doubt that's true? Paul said, 'I didn't learn this from man, but Jesus told me, like he taught the other apostles - "for you have heard of my former conduct in judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

" Paul says, 'look, you're being confused by people - I used to be one of those people.' He says, 'you're being confused by people that are zealous of the law. They think they're being saved by the law' - and he's talking, in particular, about the ceremonial laws but, by the way, we're not saved by the ten commandments either, are we? We're saved by grace alone. We keep the Ten Commandments - they're the will of God - because we love the Lord. But he said, 'I know the people that you're talking to - I used to be one of them.' I'll visit with folks, sometimes, that get mixed up in some of the various charismatic trends and I like to remind them - I say, 'I understand what you're going through. Before I was a seventh-day adventist, I worshiped with charismatics.

I didn't know who adventists were.' I said, 'I know about speaking in tongues.' I said, 'I know about their views on salvation and stuff. I - I was one, so I understand that.' A lot of lovely people in those churches, but it's a distraction from the true Gospel. "For you have heard of my former conduct...i persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it." Now, you know, that's encouraging. Can a person be reached when they're an enemy of the cross? Did the Lord reach Paul? Sometimes you meet people that not only are resistent to the Gospel, but they're fighting it. There are some groups that are very hard to reach.

But Paul said, 'look, I was the hardest nut in the world to crack. I was out killing Christians. I hated Christianity so much, I thought it was the biggest threat to our religion, and I was bent on killing them.' He said, 'but God got my attention.' I think one reason is Paul was sincere. "And I advanced in judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the tradidtions of my fathers." Then he goes on and he says - you go to verse 15 - someone's going to read for me, in just a moment, Jeremiah 1:5 - okay? And if you read in verse 15 - Galatians 1:15, "but when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through his grace," - he says, 'I was called from - the Lord knew what my calling would be, way back at the beginning. He doesn't say I would be faithful from the beginning, but way back when I was born, God knew that he was going to turn my life around.

You can also read Isaiah 49:1, "...the Lord has called me from the womb from the matrix of my mother he has made mention of my name." Now some of these allusions to the Lord calling from the womb, date back to - are echoes of what God did for Jesus. Go ahead, read for me Jeremiah 1, verse 5. Jeremiah 1:5, "before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you I ordained you a prophet to the nations." Now Isaiah and Jeremiah didn't really get their call to prophecy until later in their lives, but God was telling them 'I've had a plan for your life.' Amen. And you can even read Luke :15 - now this is something that is a real conundrum for theologians. It says, "for he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink.

He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb." How many of you wish you could have babies like that? (Laughter) filled with the Holy Spirit. How come we don't all have babies like that? Was that fair for God to give elizabeth a baby? I mean, you know, sometimes someone has a baby, a few weeks later they say, 'is it a good baby? Does it sleep at night or is it, you know, is it a crying baby?' We all have different kinds of babies and - how'd you like to have a spirit-filled baby from the beginning? Don't most of us pray that God gives us the Spirit? We surrender our lives, he gives us the Spirit. How come John got it with no choice on his? It almost smacks of predestination, doesn't it? But God can do that on occasion if he wants to. And Jesus, of course, was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb. Go to verse 16 - Galatians 1:16 - "to reveal his son in me, that I might" - now, what's the purpose of a Christian? To reveal Christ in our lives.

To follow Christ, right? - "To reveal his son in me, that I might preach him among the gentiles," - who was the first apostle to the gentiles? Paul. Peter. Peter. When he went in acts chapter 10, he began to preach in cornelius' house. But Paul was specifically called to go to the gentiles.

They both went to both - "to preach him among the gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me;" - he says, 'I didn't get this from the other apostles. That's why Paul's writings are a little different. He said, "but I went to arabia, and returned again to damascus." Now, this is the only time this is mentioned. Paul talks about going to arabia. Luke does not mention that after Paul's conversion he went to arabia.

Arabia is not talking about saudi arabia. Arabia - the word actually means 'araba - a plain or desert' - he went from damascus out into the desert and he spent some time with God. It doesn't say how long he was there, but he went, really, to fast and pray and prepare. And then it says, after three years he came back to damascus and then after three years, it says he went to meet with the disciples. Matter of fact, I'm getting ahead of myself.

If you go to - go to Galatians :17, "nor did I go to jeerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to arabia, and returned again to damascus. Then after three years" - some people say he was in arabia three years - it doesn't say that. He went out in the wilderness, spent some time there - we don't know how long - it says then he went back to damascus where he was originally converted. 'Then after three years I went to Jerusalem - after three years in damascus.' To see - now why did he spend so long in damascus? The leaders in Jerusalem had sent him on a mission to kill Christians in damascus. Instead of killing Christians, he became one.

Talk about mad. Here, you know, they pay him and they send him to go to arrest and persecute Christians and all of a sudden they get word from damascus, 'wow, the church is really growing in damascus.' 'Well, we sent Paul there to kill them. What's going on?' 'Well, Paul's the one who's preaching. He's making Christians.' So he couldn't go right back to Jerusalem because they probably had a price on his head right away. Three years later he finally creeps into the city.

He didn't ever hang around a lot in Jerusalem and when he went to Jerusalem did they arrest him, eventually, in Jerusalem? Yeah, so they didn't like Paul very much in Jerusalem. They even sent representatives from Jerusalem to rome to accuse Paul before nero. That's a long trip back then, so you've really got to hate a person to do that. So he said, "afterward I went into the regions of syria and cilicia. And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ.

" They didn't know who this new whippersnapper was who was preaching - "but they were hearing only, 'he who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy." And that goes down to verse 24. I mean, here he is trying to destroy it and he ends up preaching the faith he once tried to destroy. Well, we're out of time, but we're going to say more. Galatians - I - this is going to be a good study. I think it's going to be very relevant for us.

I want to remind those who are watching at home that we do have a book you'll really enjoy. It's called satan's confusing counterfeits written by Joe Crews. When you call that number - -788-3966 - we'll send you a free copy of this. It's offer #191. When you call, make sure and give them that offer number, it helps them find the right book.

And then, after you read it, please share it with your friend. God bless you, friends. We're looking forward to studying His Word together again. Next week we'll be in section 3 - lesson 3 of Galatians. Let's face it, it's not always easy to understand everything you read in the Bible.

With over 700,000 words contained in 66 books, the Bible can generate a lot of questions. To get biblical straightforward answers call in to Bible answers live - a live nationwide call-in radio program where you can talk to Pastor Doug Batchelor and ask him your most difficult Bible questions. For times and stations in your area, or to listen to answers online, visit bal.amazingfacts.org. Friends, we're out here in the pacific ocean not too far from the island of fiji, and we're getting ready to look at some wonders in the deep. The Bible says God made the heaven and the earth and the sea.

And there are things under the sea that are beautiful that many people have never seen. Some folks might just skim along - snorkle on the surface, but if you want to see the real majesty of the ocean, you've got to go deeper. (Lively music) because people don't have gills like fish, we have to do something extraordinary to breathe below the surface. Because you have to breathe all the time, we need this special equipment. (Sound of breathing aparatus) in the same way, the Bible says a Christian needs to pray without ceasing.

We need to always be breathing the atmosphere of heaven if we're going to live a Christian life in this world below. Wow, what a wonderful world.

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