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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ" -- Galatians 6:11-18

The Thirteenth in a Series of Sermons on Galatians

We begin to wrap-up our series on the book of Galatians.  In this sermon, we will consider Paul’s closing words to the Galatians–expressing his desire to boast only in the cross of Jesus Christ.  But Paul’s boast stands in complete contrast to everything we have read so far about the Judaizers, men who were ashamed of Christ’s cross, since crucifixion was regarded by virtually all first century people as a symbol of shame and humiliation.  Instead, the Judaizers were boasting that their heretical movement had the blessing of God because of the large number of converts they quickly made.  Such a boast about numbers obscured the fact that to be a Judaizer, one must also boast about one’s own righteousness, supposedly attained through law-keeping and submission to ritual circumcision.  By boasting about their personal righteousness, sadly, the Judaizers become enemies of Jesus Christ.

In the first six chapters of Galatians (1:1-6:10), Paul address both the doctrinal and practical consequences of the Judaizing heresy.  As he completes this remarkable and powerful letter, the Apostle has several final comments to make.  In the first part of chapter 6, Paul discussed the principle of “sowing and reaping.”  Those who sow to the flesh–those who embrace the false gospel of the Judaizers and who seek to earn favor with God through circumcision and obedience to the ceremonial law–will reap a crop, a crop Paul calls the “fruit of the flesh,” which leads to a harvest of destruction.  But those who trust in Jesus Christ’s finished work through faith alone, and who, therefore, “walk in the Spirit,” sow seed to the Spirit.  They will manifest the fruit of the Spirit, a harvest which leads to eternal life.  Paul’s notion of “sowing and reaping” is tied to believing the true gospel and sowing to the finished work of Christ–not sowing to self-righteousness by trying to earn favor with God through obedience to the Law as the Judaizers were deceptively teaching.

Before we get to Paul’s concluding point–that the Judaizers were trying to avoid persecution by stressing circumcision instead of preaching the cross–Paul slips in a statement about his own health that we ought to briefly address.  In verse 11, Paul says “see with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.”  That Paul is writing in “large letters,” likely means that the illness which originally landed Paul on a sickbed in Galatia some months earlier had to do with his vision.  Paul was likely still having trouble with his eyes, so he indicates why it is that he had written out this epistle in such large letters.

The final point Paul raises as he concludes this letter is his discussion of the motivation of the Judaizers in teaching their false gospel.  In verses 12-13, Paul charges, “it is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.  For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.”  Again, Paul deals with these hypocritical false teachers who were trying to make a good impression outwardly (verse 12), but who do not obey the very same law they tell their own converts they must obey (verse 13).  Warns Paul, they are trying to compel you to be circumcised–deceiving you into taking back upon yourselves the yoke of the law–when the Judaizers not only don’t keep the law themselves, their motivation in deceiving you has to do with escaping persecution because of the scandal attached to the cross.  

The cross of Jesus Christ is stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to Greeks, the very mention of which was offensive to many.  Though the cross be an offense, if there is no cross, there is no gospel.  But for the Judaizers, who saw justification as the fruit of human effort (so the cross makes no sense to them) the gospel as taught by Paul must be modified so as to remove the offence.  But to remove the offence of the cross was to preach a gospel which was no gospel.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

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