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Lowell Brueckner

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The Old Testament Gospel


Galatians 3:6-14

V. 6-9 just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"? 
 7.  Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 
 8. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." 
 9.  So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

No modern leader can, in any way, put himself in Paul’s shoes, because there is a special inerrant inspiration upon his teaching. There are no errors in the doctrine, which we will attempt to understand in this expositional study of Galatians.

Secondly, I think we have seen conclusively that no one can attempt to lead the flock of God without a thorough understanding of the entire revelation of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. We showed that Jesus required it of His disciples in Luke 24:25-27 and 44-46. No one can lay claim to these Galatian scriptures nor apply them to any situation in our times without the same understanding. Any attempt to do so is wild assumption, which cannot be taken seriously.

Foolish and Bewitched


Galatians 3:1-6

V. 1 “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.”

The Galatians are foolish. The Amplified Version, with its characteristic thoroughness, states, “You poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians!” Please don’t think that it overstates the condition of the people. Words cannot adequately express the folly of accepting error in the face of truth, of turning to theory, where reality has been experienced, of sheep following wolves instead of the Shepherd, and believers, who prefer law over grace.

For such deception to take place, Paul recognizes something more sinister and powerful than mere human persuasion. Demons have been involved; they enjoy no greater activity than to invade the area of Christian doctrine. Paul writes to Timothy: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Ti.4:1). The Greek word, translated bewitch, means exactly that: to bring evil upon people, cast a spell, to charm.

In John 10, Jesus says that His sheep will not listen to strangers: “A stranger they will not follow… All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them” (Jn.10:5,8). I am sure that He is speaking in the same way, as He would, in reference to sin: “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning” (1 Jn.5:18). It is possible for a Christian to sin (1 Jn.2:1), but he cannot habitually practice and persist in sin. Likewise, a stranger could deceive a sheep for a while, but the Shepherd will intervene, before the sheep is irremediably wounded. However, for deception to have reached the high level, as is evident in Galatia, it certainly proves that there are a good share of unconverted, carnal goats among the sheep.

Positiveness... a Modern Heresy


A little lesson about positive thinking, positive speaking, and positive confession:

Many years ago, I came into a house, in which an old man was outside his senses. The old man had been prayed for and his son had been told that whatever the symptoms might be, he was to confess that his father was healed. Obviously, it would be inconsistent that a "healed" man should take medicine, so the son had discontinued his doses. 

I got the old man into a car and rushed him to the emergency entrance at the nearest hospital, where he was given insulin and soon his mind began to function as it should. The attending doctor gave his son and I (although I was not the guilty party) a heated scolding. 

Well, my friend, that was enough to teach me that "positive confession" is not only a minor error, but a dangerous weapon that can kill! It is supposed to promote faith, but in truth, it kills faith. I have talked to people, who are broken-hearted, because they did not have enough faith to see their loved ones healed. They would say that they had done everything that they were told to do, and yet there was no improvement. I talked to a family that was totally unprepared for the death of the wife/mother, because they were taught that "by faith, she is healed". 

Paul Rebukes Peter


Chapter 2:11-14But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 
For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 
And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 
But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?

This is one of the most revealing portions of Scripture, concerning the absence of the importance of rank and, on the other hand, loyalty to the truth of the Word of God in the early church. Paul’s point in telling the story is to strip the Galatians of all the false, idolatrous awe that they had given to the church and eldership in Jerusalem. By far, Peter was the elder in the faith over Paul and his experience in Christianity dated to its very onset. If it could be said that there was any human instrument used in establishing the faith on the earth, up to this point, that distinction would have to be given to Peter. Peter was the speaker on the Day of Pentecost. It was Peter’s shadow that touched the infirm along the streets of the city and they were healed. 

Yet Paul does not hesitate a moment in opposing him to the face. Why? “Because he stood condemned” and “acted hypocritically.” His deportment was wrong and, in behaving as he did, he had sinned; there was no question about it. There is no indication given anywhere in the New Testament that Paul was out of order. If it seemed to the Galatians, and if seems to us, that he had acted improperly, it is because they did not, and we do not, understand biblical etiquette. I see nowhere in Scripture, from David to Hezekiah that this was not the manner of treating sin or wrong behavior of any kind. Paul instructed Titus, “Rebuke them sharply” (Tit.1:13). A high percentage of what we have heard concerning submission to leaders is not Bible truth.

Competitors or Brothers?


CHAPTER 2:1-10

V.1-2. “Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.” 

Why is Paul focusing on Jerusalem and almost belittling it, I ask? The answer is obvious. It implies that the Galatians are overly obsessed with the Jerusalem church and its leadership. They see it as an ideal model of Christianity and as the fountain of spirituality for all churches. Most of them, being Gentiles situated a long distance from Israel, would have no natural reason for this kind of attention towards one of its cities.  

Could this emphasis possibly have come to them through Holy Spirit revelation? That certainly was not the case, because it is not His way to pick out a physical place and declare it to be the center for Christian instruction and example. He will point us to Christ and His cross. He will bring us to inspired Scripture and teach us to come before God’s throne in prayer. He will be concerned with spiritual blessings in heavenly places

No, this teaching was not something, to which the Galatian were naturally drawn, and certainly, it did not have anything heavenly in its content, but was something contrived by human sources to fulfill a special interest for its perpetrators. Judaizers from Jerusalem had come purposely to divert the Galatian’s attention away from grace and point them towards works. The Galatians, simply, had been brain-washed.

An Intermission


I probably should have used this little addition to our expositional study on Galatians as an introduction. You will have to forgive my imperfections, because I am presenting these things to you as I write. It is not a finished, polished product. I tend to think that this method produces a little more intimacy between the writer and the reader. I hope so. Please read this selection carefully, because I think it is very important in applying Paul´s letter to our situations in the 21st Century.