Studies in Galatians --Part 3

Studies in Galatians
Part 3

James Gunn

The Doctrine of God

“Even the modern Church and theologians are saying God is dead and the Bible is a myth.” This quotation taken from a recent Toronto, Canada, newspaper reminds one of the decree of the French revolutionists.

In the month of November 1793, with the fall of the monarchy in France, the revolutionists decreed that God did not exist, and that Reason was to be worshipped in His stead.

A veiled woman was brought into the convention and one of the leaders said, “Mortals, cease to tremble before the powerless thunders of a God whom your fears have created. Henceforth acknowledge no divinity but reason. I offer you its noblest and purest image; if you must have idols, sacrifice only to such as this.” The veil then was removed.

With open blasphemy this woman was taken in a beautiful carriage to Notre Dame and elevated upon the altar there. She then received adoration from the crowds that gathered. In this manner France decreed that God did not exist.

The Bible does not attempt to prove the existence of God; it assumes His existence. The Scriptures declare what God does through both His personal and moral attributes. These accomplishments become to the honest researcher, the proofs of His being, of His infinite wisdom and power.

Paul was convinced of the existance of God; he knew God in and through personal experiences. In this manner he makes some thirty references to God in this Epistle to the Galatians. In these references we see God in some of His moral attributes and in some of His different relationships to His people.

Let us look carefully at some of these.

His Grace to the Unregenerate

When Paul makes reference in the Epistle to the Romans (1:1) to his apostleship, he lays claim to an act of God whereby he was separated to his stewardship. Here in Galatians he informs us that this act dates back to his birth. We know from his own testimony that during the interval between his birth and his conversion he was a blasphemer, a persecutor of the Church, and an injurious person (1 Tim. 1:13). His zeal in those preconversion years was to destroy the Christian faith (Gal. 1:23). But he tells us in Galatians 1:15-17 of the grace of God; through divine grace he was called in order that Christ be inwardly unveiled to him so that he might proclaim Christ as Saviour to the nations.

Thank God for conversion! Frequently during her history, the Church has glorified God, as she did for Paul, because of the conversion of some notable opponent or some godless infidel. God has not changed. What He did in Paul’s case, and in the case of so many others, He is still able to do.

His Righteousness in the Church

We know that among all nations, Jews and Gentiles alike, there is no respecter of persons with God (Rom. 2:11). Here in Galatians 2:1-12, he assures us that God is just as righteous within His Church as among the nations.

Speaking after the manner of men, some persons in the church at Jerusalem were of reputation, others seemed to be somewhat, and certain apparently were counted as pillars. Paul says, “Whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person.”

A man’s worth is fully appraised by God; He is righteous in His judgment. Like the Corinthians we are prone to be partial to some and prejudiced against others. James indicates how easy it is to have respect for the person who wears gay clothing (Jas. 2:2-3). May we ever remember that God accepteth not the person of any man. Happy the one who can conduct himself and the affairs of the church with such righteousness.

His Immutability in His Word

In ancient times it was the custom among men when they made a covenant to shed the blood of animals, and to divide their carcasses into two. These they then set on either side of a space wide enough to make a pathway. The two making the covenant then walked up and down in the pathway between the pieces. This action apparently was to intimate that should either break the covenant, he similarly should be cut asunder.

God entered into such a covenant with Abraham. Notice this in the third chapter of this Epistle to the Galatians. In entering into this covenant, He performed the very rite we have described (Gen. 15:9-18) with this one exception, God’s presence alone passed between the pieces of animals. It was therefore a one-sided covenant, made entirely on the part of God. What grace! Can anything ever change a covenant entered into so solemnly? Nothing. God’s Word is immutable. Like His divine essence, it is unchangeable. He will never break His Word. All His promises are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus.

His Fatherhood Over His Family

The opening part of chapter four teaches us how we pass from slavery to sonship. Notice the paragraph from verse 4 through verse 9. Here we read of redemption, adoption, and heirship.

In chapter three the Apostle treated the matter of redemption. He reminded us that Christ had freed us from the curse of a broken law by being made a curse for us. He endured the penalty of our transgressions and thus liberated us from the severity of the law.

Since we have been redeemed, we are the object of divine adoption. We are members of the family of God by legal right (John 1:11-13). The truth of adoption is presented to us under two aspects in Romans chapter 8: first, the generative aspect (V. 15); second, the culminative aspect (V. 23).

When one believes to the saving of the soul, that moment he is possessed by the Spirit of Adoption and is able to cry, “Abba, Father.” Yet there is something more he anticipates, the adoption, “to wit, the redemption of the body” (Rom. 8:23). Adoption then is the divine acknowledgement that we are God’s sons and heirs through Christ Jesus. God has already acknowledged this to Himself and to us, but we wait the time when our heavenly Father, the eternal God, will acknowledge this before the entire Universe.

His Sovereignty in His Kingdom

After enumerating a list of gross sins, the Apostle states, “They that do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). There is much confusion in the minds of God’s children relative to kingdom truth. While the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Heaven have many things in common, there are also things which seem to be in contrast. In fact, the two appellations form a contrast, for the heavens we know are to pass away, whereas God is eternal. One thing is certain, God is sovereign over His kingdom, and will maintain its purity, and nothing that defiles will be tolerated by Him, the divine Sovereign.

His Judgeship in Time

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

How frequently we apply this passage to the unconverted! Nevertheless, it apparently should be primarily applied to the Christian. Its bearing actually is upon the present rather than on the future. What we sow now will result in a harvest now. There is no doubt but that we all are to be made manifest at the Judgment Seat of Christ where we may gain or lose a reward. Notwithstanding, the suggestion here is that no one can deceive the Lord for all things are naked before Him. The Apostle Peter teaches the same truth, he says, “If we call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” (1 Pet. 1:17).

What a wonderful picture of God the Apostle gives here! He is the God of all grace, of infinite righteousness, of immutability. He is the divine Father of the redeemed and the just Judge over the House of God.