In expostulating with the Galatians for forsaking grace for Law, St. Paul appeals to their own experience. He is not expounding the gospel for the first time to strangers; he is arguing with Christians who know its power. His argument applies to all who turn aside from the early life of faith and grace to any supposed improvement of human discipline. Their own experience uses up in condemnation of them. Three proofs of the foolishness of such a course are here given.
I. THIS COURSE REVERSES THE NATURAL ORDER OF PROGRESS. It is absurd to think of being perfected in the flesh after having begun in the Spirit. These two, the flesh and the Spirit, correspond in our experience to the two methods - by Law and by grace through faith. It is the weakness of Law that it is external, and governs only external acts, that it directs the flesh, the outer life, but infuses no inward spiritual life. Grace does not concern itself directly with such outward acts. It is a spiritual inspiration, and faith is a spiritual act. Now, the natural progress is from the outward to the inward. We see this in our personal experience. Children first learn to obey direct commands, and gradually learn principles of right conduct, until conscience takes the place of external authority. With the race the same progress holds good. Earlier forms of religion are more external. The latest is the most spiritual. To turn away from the spiritual is not merely to go back; it is to revert to a more improper method. Spiritual religion is the highest religion. Nothing can exceed the power of faith and love and inward grace. If these influences are slow in ripening the perfect character, it is absurd to think of hastening the result by reverting to weaker influences of Law and formal rules,
II. THIS COURSE STULTIFIES THE PAST ENDURANCE OF PERSECUTION. (Ver. 4.) St. Paul's allusion implies that the Galatians had been persecuted - as we know other Churches had been - at the instigation of the Jews. If the Jewish Law were the highest method of righteousness, persecution provoked by slighting or opposing it must have been endured for nothing. This was an argumentum ad hominem. We have to make sacrifices in other ways if we are faithful to spiritual religion. We are also appealed to by the memories of our fathers, who testified to spiritual liberty at the rack and the stake. When we play with the broken chains which they cast off, and even forge them afresh by submitting to the revival of old formalities and superstitions, the spirits of those martyred heroes of Protestantism rise up to rebuke us. Or does the most noble page of England's history describe only a huge, quixotic delusion?
III. THIS COURSE CONTRADICTS THE EVIDENCE AFFORDED BY THE POWER THAT FLOWS FROM SPIRITUAL GRACE. (Ver. 5.) St. Paul and other men endued with the Spirit wrought miracles. The most rigid follower of the Law could not do so. But more than power over material things grew out of the grace of the Spirit. The conquests of the gospel flowed from faith and spiritual gifts. The men of formal devotion never turned the world upside down. There is no fire in Law, The new creation of the world only follows spiritual activity. It is the work of the men of faith. "By their fruits ye shall know them." Whatever fascination there may be in religions of strict rules and rigid ordinances, we find that it is the free spiritual energy of unfettered souls that moves the hearts of others. This religion of faith and grace which possesses the most Divine power must be for us the highest and best. - W.F.A.
Have ye suffered so many things in vain?
Unless you continue faithful to the end, all your former Christian life must remain without the recompense God longs to bestow. Your struggles, your self-sacrifice, will all be unrewarded. The apostasy of the closing days of your life would render worthless the fidelity of all your previous years. You have done so well, that if now you do not fail you will have an abundant entrance into glory. It is not God's will that any who have suffered with Christ should miss the honour and blessedness of reigning with Him.
It is worthy of consideration on the part of all who are entrusted with the moral and religious care of others, that throughout Holy Scripture there is the union of kindly loving hopefulness with strong and even stern rebuke. If in despair of men who have gone grievously wrong, they will soon despair of themselves. Those who have been most successful in prevailing others to trust in Christ have commonly had an ardent and unconquerable persuasion that they should succeed; the eager faith of their own hearts has passed into the hearts of those with whom they pleaded.
As the skilful pearl-seller and cunning lapidary doth willingly suffer the Indian diamond or adamant to be heavily smitten, because he knoweth well the hammer and anvil will sooner be bruised than the diamond or adamant be broken; so our most wise God suffereth men of excellent virtues, of unquenchable love and charity, and invincible constancy, to fall into divers temptations, great afflictions, and manifold miseries, because He will have their moral grace to break out and shine before men, that they, seeing the constancy of His saints, may glorify God which is in heaven.
The philosopher, being asked in his old age why he did not give over his practice, and take his ease, answered, "When a man is to run a race of forty furlongs, would you have him sit down at the nine-and-thirtieth, and so lose the prize? We do not keep a good fire all day, and let it go out in the evening, when it is coldest; but then rather lay on more fuel, that we may go warm to bed." He that slakes the heat of his zeal in old age will go cold to bed, and in a worse case to his grave. Though the beginning be more than half, yet the end is more than all.
TopicsEndured, Experience, Fact, Indeed, Nothing, Purpose, Really, Suffer, Suffered, Sufferings, Undergo, Vain, Vain-if, Yet
Outline1. He asks what moved them to leave the faith, and hold onto the law.6. Those who believe are justified,9. and blessed with Abraham.10. And this he shows by many reasons.15. The purpose of the Law26. You are sons of God
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGalatians 3:4
5565 suffering, of believers
5381 law, letter and spirit
3242 Holy Spirit, baptism with
6678 justification, Christ's work
5110 Paul, teaching of
LibraryJuly 8. "Having Begun in the Spirit, are Ye Now Made Perfect by the Flesh" (Gal. Iii. 3).
"Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh" (Gal. iii. 3). Grace literally means that which we do not have to earn. It has two great senses always; it comes for nothing and it comes when we are helpless; it doesn't merely help the man that helps himself--that is not the Gospel; the Gospel is that God helps the man who can't help himself. And then there is another thing; God helps the man to help himself, for everything the man does comes from God. Grace is given to the man …
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth
Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity God's Testament and Promise in Christ.
Text: Galatians 3, 15-22. 15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men: Though it be but a man's covenant, yet when it hath been confirmed, no one maketh it void, or addeth thereto. 16 Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 Now this I say: A covenant confirmed beforehand by God, the law, which came four hundred and thirty years after, doth not disannul, so as to make the promise of none …
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III
The Universal Prison
'But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.'--GAL. iii. 22. The Apostle uses here a striking and solemn figure, which is much veiled for the English reader by the ambiguity attaching to the word 'concluded.' It literally means 'shut up,' and is to be taken in its literal sense of confining, and not in its secondary sense of inferring. So, then, we are to conceive of a vast prison-house in which mankind is confined. …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Lessons of Experience
'Have ye suffered so many things in vain?'--GAL. iii 4. Preached on the last Sunday of the year. This vehement question is usually taken to be a reminder to the fickle Galatians that their Christian faith had brought upon them much suffering from the hands of their unbelieving brethren, and to imply an exhortation to faithfulness to the Gospel lest they should stultify their past brave endurance. Yielding to the Judaising teachers, and thereby escaping the 'offence of the Cross,' they would make …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Uses of the Law
Yet, pardon me my friends, if I just observe that this is a very natural question, too. If you read the doctrine of the apostle Paul you find him declaring that the law condemns all mankind. Now, just let us for one single moment take a bird's eye view of the works of the law in this world. Lo, I see, the law given upon Mount Sinai. The very hill doth quake with fear. Lightnings and thunders are the attendants of those dreadful syllables which make the hearts of Israel to melt Sinai seemeth altogether …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 3: 1857
A Call to the Unconverted
But my hearer, I am solemnly convinced that a large proportion of this assembly dare not say so; and thou to-night (for I am speaking personally to thee), remember that thou art one of those who dare not say this, for thou art a stranger to the grace of God. Thou durst not lie before God, and thine own conscience, therefore thou dost honestly say, "I know I was never regenerated; I am now what I always was, and that is the most I can say." Now, with you I have to deal, and I charge you by him who …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858
The Work of the Holy Spirit
This evening, however, I shall run away from my text somewhat. Having just in a few words endeavored to explain the meaning of the whole sentence, I intend only this evening to dwell upon the doctrine which incidentally the apostle teaches us. He teaches us that we begin in the Spirit--"Having begun in the Spirit" I have already illustrated the whole text sufficiently for our understanding if God the Holy Spirit shall enlighten us; and I shall now, I say, confine myself to the thought that Christians …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858
The Curse Removed
"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."--Galatians 3:13 THE law of God is a divine law, holy, heavenly, perfect. Those who find fault with the law, or in the least degree depreciate it, do not understand its design, and have no right idea of the law itself. Paul says, "the law is holy, but I am carnal; sold under sin." In all we ever say concerning justification by faith, we never intend to lower …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 57: 1911
Ephesians ii. 8
For by Grace, are you saved, through Faith; and that not of your selves: it is the Gift of God. I Now come to the Second part of that Design, which I have, for some Time, had in View; viz. to examine particularly the principal of those false Pretences, and mistaken Notions, concerning the Terms of our Acceptance with God, by which Men support themselves in their Continuance in their beloved Vices; and endeavour to elude the Force, and arm themselves against the Power, of those plain Texts of Scripture, …
Benjamin Hoadly—Several Discourses Concerning the Terms of Acceptance with God
The Critical Reconstruction of the History of the Apostolic Age.
"Die Botschaft hör' ich wohl, allein mir fehlt der Glaube." (Goethe.) Never before in the history of the church has the origin of Christianity, with its original documents, been so thoroughly examined from standpoints entirely opposite as in the present generation. It has engaged the time and energy of many of the ablest scholars and critics. Such is the importance and the power of that little book which "contains the wisdom of the whole world," that it demands ever new investigation and sets …
Philip Schaff—History of the Christian Church, Volume I
Light for them that Sit in Darkness;
OR, A DISCOURSE OF JESUS CHRIST: AND THAT HE UNDERTOOK TO ACCOMPLISH BY HIMSELF THE ETERNAL REDEMPTION OF SINNERS: ALSO, HOW THE LORD JESUS ADDRESSED HIMSELF TO THIS WORK; WITH UNDENIABLE DEMONSTRATIONS THAT HE PERFORMED THE SAME. OBJECTIONS TO THE CONTRARY ANSWERED. 'Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.'--Galatians 3:13. by John Bunyan--1674 ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. This solemn and searching treatise was first published in 1674, a copy of which is in …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
A Case of Conscience Resolved
WHETHER, WHERE A CHURCH OF CHRIST IS SITUATE, IT IS THE DUTY OF THE WOMEN OF THAT CONGREGATION, ORDINARILY, AND BY APPOINTMENT, TO SEPARATE THEMSELVES FROM THEIR BRETHREN, AND SO TO ASSEMBLE TOGETHER, TO PERFORM SOME PARTS OF DIVINE WORSHIP, AS PRAYER, ETC., WITHOUT THEIR MEN? AND THE ARGUMENTS MADE USE OF FOR THAT PRACTICE, EXAMINED. BY JOHN BUNYAN. EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT. This exceedingly rare tract was first published in 1683, and was not reprinted, either separately, or in any edition of Bunyan's …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
The Substance of Some Discourse had Between the Clerk of the Peace and Myself; when He came to Admonish Me, According to the Tenor of that Law, by which I was in Prison.
When I had lain in prison other twelve weeks, and now not knowing what they intended to do with me, upon the third of April 1661, comes Mr Cobb unto me (as he told me), being sent by the justices to admonish me; and demand of me submittance to the church of England, etc. The extent of our discourse was as followeth. Cobb. When he was come into the house he sent for me out of my chamber; who, when I was come unto him, he said, Neighbour Bunyan, how do you do? Bun. I thank you, Sir, said I, very …
John Bunyan—Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
The Promises of the Christian Home.
"The promise is unto you, and to your children." ACTS II., 39. "Parent who plantedst in the joy of love, Yet hast not gather'd fruit,--save rankling thorns, Or Sodom's bitter apples,--hast thou read Heaven's promise to the seeker? Thou may'st bring Those o'er whose cradle thou didst watch with pride, And lay them at thy Savior's feet, for lo! His shadow falling on the wayward soul, May give it holy health. And when thou kneel'st Low at the pavement of sweet Mercy's gate, Beseeching for thine erring …
Samuel Philips—The Christian Home
Retiring Before the Sanhedrin's Decree.
(Jerusalem and Ephraim in Judæa.) ^D John XI. 47-54. ^d 47 The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council [called a meeting of the Sanhedrin], and said, What do we? [Thus they reproach one another for having done nothing in a present and urgent crisis. As two of their number (Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathæa) were afterwards in communications with Christians, it was easy for the disciples to find out what occurred on this notable occasion.] for this man doeth many signs. …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
The Ordinance of Covenanting
THE ORDINANCE OF COVENANTING. BY JOHN CUNNINGHAM, A.M. "HE HATH COMMANDED HIS COVENANT FOR EVER." Ps. cxi. 9. "THOUGH IT BE BUT A MAN'S COVENANT, YET IF IT BE CONFIRMED, NO MAN DISANNULETH, OR ADDETH THERETO." Gal. iii. 15. GLASGOW:--WILLIAM MARSHALL. SOLD ALSO BY JOHN KEITH. EDINBURGH:--THOMAS NELSON AND JOHN JOHNSTONE. LONDON:--HAMILTON, ADAMS, & CO. MANCHESTER:-GALT & ANDERSON. BELFAST:--WILLIAM POLLOCK. TO THE REVEREND ANDREW SYMINGTON, D.D., PROFESSOR OF DIVINITY IN THE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN …
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting
Letter iv. You Reply to the Conclusion of My Letter: "What have we to do with Routiniers?...
My dear friend, You reply to the conclusion of my Letter: "What have we to do with routiniers? Quid mihi cum homunculis putata putide reputantibus? Let nothings count for nothing, and the dead bury the dead! Who but such ever understood the tenet in this sense?" In what sense then, I rejoin, do others understand it? If, with exception of the passages already excepted, namely, the recorded words of God--concerning which no Christian can have doubt or scruple,--the tenet in this sense be inapplicable …
Samuel Taylor Coleridge—Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit etc
Here Therefore These Men Too Evil, While they Essay to Make Void the Law...
9. Here therefore these men too evil, while they essay to make void the Law, force us to approve these Scriptures. For they mark what is said, that they who are under the Law are in bondage, and they keep flying above the rest that last saying, "Ye are made empty  of Christ, as many of you as are justified in the Law; ye have fallen from Grace."  We grant that all these things are true, and we say that the Law is not necessary, save for them unto whom bondage is yet profitable: and that …
St. Augustine—On the Profit of Believing.
The Right Understanding of the Law
Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.' Exod 20: 3. Before I come to the commandments, I shall answer questions, and lay down rules respecting the moral law. What is the difference between the moral laud and the gospel? (1) The law requires that we worship God as our Creator; the gospel, that we worship him in and through Christ. God in Christ is propitious; out of him we may see God's power, justice, and holiness: in him we see his mercy displayed. (2) The moral law requires obedience, but gives …
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments
The Wrath of God
What does every sin deserve? God's wrath and curse, both in this life, and in that which is to come. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.' Matt 25: 41. Man having sinned, is like a favourite turned out of the king's favour, and deserves the wrath and curse of God. He deserves God's curse. Gal 3: 10. As when Christ cursed the fig-tree, it withered; so, when God curses any, he withers in his soul. Matt 21: 19. God's curse blasts wherever it comes. He deserves also God's wrath, which is …
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments
The Gospel Message, Good Tidings
[As it is written] How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! T he account which the Apostle Paul gives of his first reception among the Galatians (Galatians 4:15) , exemplifies the truth of this passage. He found them in a state of ignorance and misery; alienated from God, and enslaved to the blind and comfortless superstitions of idolatry. His preaching, accompanied with the power of the Holy Spirit, had a great and marvellous effect. …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2
The Impotence of the Law.
HEBREWS vii. 19.--"For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh to God." It is the aim of the Epistle to the Hebrews, to teach the insufficiency of the Jewish Dispensation to save the human race from the wrath of God and the power of sin, and the all-sufficiency of the Gospel Dispensation to do this. Hence, the writer of this Epistle endeavors with special effort to make the Hebrews feel the weakness of their old and much esteemed religion, …
William G.T. Shedd—Sermons to the Natural Man
Justification by Faith --Illustrated by Abram's Righteousness
Referring to the chapter before us for a preface to our subject, note that after Abram's calling his faith proved to be of the most practical kind. Being called to separate himself from his kindred and from his country, he did not therefore become a recluse, a man of ascetic habits, or a sentimentalist, unfit for the battles of ordinary life--no; but in the noblest style of true manliness he showed himself able to endure the household trouble and the public trial which awaited him. Lot's herdsmen …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 14: 1868
Adoption --The Spirit and the Cry
The divinity of each of these sacred persons is also to be gathered from the text and its connection. We do not doubt tee the loving union of all in the work of deliverance. We reverence the Father, without whom we had not been chosen or adopted: the Father who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We love and reverence the Son by whose most precious blood we have been redeemed, and with whom we are one in a mystic and everlasting union: and …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 24: 1878
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