We face a problem today that is almost as old as the church. Not long after the Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost and birthed a whole new relationship with God the Father through Jesus the Son, there were a few who wanted to keep traditions that were required in Judaism, e.g., circumcision. As Peter, Barnabas and Paul watched God work through the gospel of grace, and the Spirit fill new believers, both Jews and Gentiles, it was impossible to allow a certain faction to place restrictions on this grace or the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Jerusalem Council (Read Acts 14:27 to 15:35).
The disturbing effect of those who propagated a “works” doctrine at this time of the Early Church, was that the very churches Paul planted in Galatia were being spied on because of the freedom they had in Christ. Paul wanted to make sure “that the truth of the gospel…be preserved for [them]” (Galatians 2:4-5). With deep passion for the pure gospel in believers, Paul wrote to them, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (3:2–3).
Those are questions we must answer today! How did you start in faith and how will you finish? Can you add anything to the gospel of grace or the gift of the Holy Spirit? Paul is so bold on this point as to say that to add anything to grace is foolish. The following verses of Galatians 3 continue to press the point; God supplies the Spirit and does works of miracles by “hearing with faith… believing God…that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (3:5, 14).
My dear reader, I fear we are in great danger today because we restrict the work of God through adding requirements that are not biblical. I feel that same concern that Paul expressed in this first letter. Our freedom in Christ is not a license for the flesh, but a liberty to allow the Spirit to empower and lead us so we will keep in step with the Spirit (5:25).
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