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Pastor Hal   Bekemeyer

Affirming Positive Truth

WHAT TRUTH?

(Galatians 3:1) "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?"

Paul asked this question of the Galatians and there is a lesson for us, as well, in considering the answer. Of course, equally significant with the fact that these believers had been bewitched (enchanted with or by someone or something) is the point that they were no longer living on the basis of the truth. The definite article is employed to indicate that there is a specific truth that Paul had in mind rather than a broad spectrum of truthfulness in general.

The Galatian epistle makes it clear about the source of bewitching. There were teachers that were troubling them with a false gospel (Gal. 1:6-7). This gospel was false, not because it was foreign but for the reason it had been corrupted from grace by legalism. It sounded good to some but with Paul it was off the mark. It was like Paul’s gospel of Grace but it added works. Paul then “certifies” his gospel by affirming its origin and authority, asserting the uniqueness of his message which is distinct in its content of grace apart from works.

NOT CONTRIDICTING BUT DIFFERENT

Paul was required to return to Jerusalem to settle things with Israel’s Kingdom apostles because of the distinctive nature of his gospel (Gal 2:1-2). This meeting, particularly with James, Peter, and John resulted in some conclusions and an agreement. 

The record says it this way; (Galatians 2:7-9) "But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; {8} (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) {9} And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision." 

Notice the differences. Different apostleships; one Hebrew and one Gentile. Different gospels – the Gospel of the Kingdom (circumcision) and the Gospel of the Grace of God (uncircumcision). Different mission fields – Peter and the eleven to Israel’s little flock and Paul to all other heathen.

The Galatian problem was about more than legalism. It involved the confusion of Law and grace but the root problem is dispensational in nature. God has employed different agencies in His purposes on earth and at different times. In times past He worked in, and through, the nation Israel and to be estranged from that nation was alienation from God Himself (Ephesians 2:11-12). The present age is called the Dispensation of the Grace of God (Ephesians 3:1-2) and the agency of this age is the Church, the Body of Christ. This is one of the reasons that the Church is called the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).

IDENTITY CRISIS – KNOW WHO YOU ARE

Much misunderstanding has resulted from the fact that religion has blurred the lines between Israel and the Church, the Body of Christ. Both involve different instructions, promises and structure. One is a nation the other a spiritual body. One operated on the basis of Mosaic Law and the other according to Grace (incompatible programs - see Romans 6:13-14; 8:1-3). This mingling of Law and Grace has been catastrophic to many because it involves a false sense of identity with believers attempting to occupy Israel’s place and standing instead of the identity as a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

IGNORANT LAW TEACHERS

Those that teach that Israel’s Law is contemporarily applicable do tremendous damage and inflict great discouragement. Note Paul’s declaration to Timothy concerning Law teachers; (1 Timothy 1:3-11) "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, {4} Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. {5} Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: {6} From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; {7} Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. {8} But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; {9} Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, {10} For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; {11} According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust."

The Law is not made for the righteous because its purpose is condemnation. Law keeping, for the lost soul, will not result in the righteousness necessary for salvation, nor will it generate practical righteousness in we who are saved.

Law teachers ignorantly promote the truth of another age. The Mosaic Law was a way of life for Israel but in the age of Grace its precepts produce spiritual death (Romans 7:5-6). The Law was a system of don’ts and its ultimate purpose was to declare us as guilty (Romans 3:19-20). Grace is positive truth that promotes life and is centered in the believers identity in Christ (Galatians 2:20). Law completely frustrates the power of grace (Galatians 2:21) condemning the believer to a life of self-righteousness and resulting in alienation from the life of God. 

GRACE VERSUS WORKS

The Bible tells us that we are God’s creation and thus, according to His grace, we are His workmanship unto good works (Ephesians2:8-10). In this world system there are basically two approaches to pleasing God; grace and works. Works say do and is driven by man's self-righteousness. Grace operates on the basis of Christ’s life in the believer, powered by grace, and is rooted in the fountain of joy and thanksgiving. Law is negative; a short account system which can never be satisfied (Colossians 2:20-23). Grace is positive, and living under grace is founded upon the affirmation of positive truth.

POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE

(Titus 3:8) "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men."

Some have taken this verse from Titus to mean that good works are the product careful maintenance. This is interpreted, by some, as busy-ness in a religious sense and is polar opposite to the intended application. 

Titus 3:8 does not say we are to constantly affirm the need to maintain good works. It says that there are “things” which need to be constantly affirmed and that “these things” are “good and profitable.” Many of these positive truths are identified in the passage. Titus 3:4 declares God’s kindness and love toward us. Verse five asserts that it isn’t on the basis of our righteousness (we don’t have any) but centered on God’s mercy and regenerating work. The next verse speaks of the abundance that we receive through our Savior Jesus Christ. Paul then finishes this blessed plethora with the justifying power of grace and our standing as God’s heirs because of our new identity in Christ.

The constant affirmation of these positive truths goes a lot further in motivating the believer to good works than any legalistic performance system ever will. The effectualness of grace trumps law any day. Good works are not the result of a daily, careful, attention to the details doing well. Good works are the fruit of God’s grace in the believer and they flow from a well of joy and thanksgiving.

(1 Corinthians 15:10) "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."

(2 Corinthians 9:8) "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:"