foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not
obey the truth,
eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among
you? This only
would I learn of
you, Received ye the Spirit by
the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so
begun in the
are ye now made perfect by the
flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain?
if it be
ministereth to you the Spirit, and
worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by
the hearing of faith?
for their falling back from the gospel of
grace, Paul teaches them from their own experience
regarding salvation: Received
ye the Spirit by
the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?, he
them back to the beginnings of things in God. This
is not a
way of teaching, Jesus used this method when he taught about
In the following passage Jesus teaches us the original purpose of God
for marriage, one man, one woman for life.
saith unto them,
Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away
your wives: but from the
was not so.
divorce was not God's
intention at all. It is good for us to get
back to the beginning and see what God's original pattern was; the
away from their beginnings in God, so Paul brings them back
it was in the beginning'.
1.1 The promise
Let us consider the 'beginnings' of how the
not just to the Galatians but all believers. The outpouring
the Spirit on all flesh was on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in the
this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it
shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men
shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And
servants and on my handmaidens
pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall
prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs
the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The
shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that
great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that
shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
was quoting Joel
Joel was prophesying of what was to happen on the day of
Pentecost, that is
the coming of the Holy Spirit to all. But note that
it was God who took the initiative: I WILL pour
is it even
suggested that human flesh would have a part to play in it at
all, it would simply be a
sovereign act of God alone. The human race did nothing to gain any
merit in God's sight to have the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out.
Just as the initial outpouring on the day of Pentecost was a sovereign
act of God, likewise in an individual life,
Spirit has nothing whatsoever to do
with any works of the flesh, no one can do anything to merit the gift
of the Holy Spirit, it
all of God's free grace alone. He made the
it as it pleases Him.
glorifying of Christ
God could outpour the
Spirit, on the day of Pentecost, there had to be a work,
but it was God's
work and His alone. The Holy Spirit could not be
given until something else happened.
In the last day,
that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man
thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as
the scripture hath said, out of
his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the
Spirit, which they that believe on
him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that
Jesus was not yet glorified.)
And I will pray the
Father, and he shall
give you another Comforter,
that he may abide with you for ever; Even
the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive,
seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth
with you, and shall be in you.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father
in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all
to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
behold, I send the
promise of my
Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem,
be endued with power from on high.
John answered, saying unto
them all, I
indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the
latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the
and with fire:
be glorified, and
He could not be glorified until He had been crucified. In
to fulfil His Father's promise Jesus had to become a man, suffer and
be put to an open shame and crucified. Afterwards the Father would
raise Him from the dead, and then receive Him back to glory and highly
exalt Him. Then and only then could the Holy Spirit be poured out. This
is all of
no human being had anything to do with
it; the only
reason any man or woman receives the Spirit is because Jesus is
1.3 The word of
heart’s desire and prayer
to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record
that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about
establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto
the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for
righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses
the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those
things shall live by them. But
the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in
thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven?(that is, to bring Christ
down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that
to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it?
word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the
word of faith, which we preach; That if thou
with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that
God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For
the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth
confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith,
believeth on him shall not be ashamed...... faith cometh by
hearing, and hearing by the [spoken]word of God.
aspect here is the
word of faith. Although the giving of the Spirit is a sovereign act of
God, the gift is appropriated by faith. This may seem like a work of
flesh, but reading the Romans passage above we see that it is also a
work of God. As the spoken word of God is given faith is created in the
heart. There is no
effort of the flesh at all, God's word creates faith in a
so that they can receive.
It is sad when we hear of what goes on in meetings for people to
Spirit; the so called 'waiting meetings' for example. It has been known
for people to be called out to the front and those leading shaking
those seeking God, thinking that by this people will receive
Holy Spirit. No doubt the intentions are well meant, but they are
misguided through lack of understanding. How can shaking
bestow the Holy Spirit on someone?
No human effort can give the Holy Spirit, it is all of God
the beginning: He promised the gift, He sent Jesus to die and then
glorified Him, He poured the Spirit out on the day of Pentecost and
creates faith in people as they hear His word. It is God from start to
Paul makes it clear that we don't
have to do anything to bring Christ down, or to drag Him up.
word is nigh indeed. The work has been done! Christ's death,
resurrection, ascension and glorification has sealed the promise of the
Father, and is now pouring out of His Spirit to those who
genuine faith of which we speak.
1.4 How did you receive?
Paul puts the ball firmly back into the Galatians
they begin? Did they receive the Spirit in any other way than that we
have mentioned above? Had they gained salvation by the works of the law
or by faith. Of course the questions are rhetorical: there is only one
possible answer - by faith and not by works of the law. The
of the argument being: how can you live the Christian life by the
very thing that couldn't save you in the first place, indeed by the
very thing that condemned you in God's eyes?
To the Colossians Paul writes a similar thing:
ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have
been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
continue in the
Christian life as they had begun it. Christ is received by faith, and
self effort; likewise we are to continue in that life by faith and not
the efforts of the law.
makes a statement about
some of those in the Galatian churches: He therefore that
ministereth to you the Spirit, and
worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by
the hearing of faith? Although
rebuking the Galatians for their going back to the works of the law,
apparently there were those ministering the Spirit and performing
them. And the [rhetorical] question asked was: is this achieved by the
Spirit or by works of the law?
The first thing we can note is that a church can have God moving
amongst them in the miraculous, but still be in error; the Galatians
were being rebuked for going after the works of the law, yet there were
those who were ministering the Holy Spirit amongst them. Having signs
wonder occur in a church, or indeed in ones own life is no
guarantee that there is no falsehood or deception going on;
those who claim to be right with God on the basis that there are
miracles happening are deceived. If we use such a yardstick to measure
spirituality, then we would be walking by sight and not faith. We only
need consider what Jesus said
to see this.
Not every one that saith unto
Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the
will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in
day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name
have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye
that work iniquity.
man's debtor, and He
moves as it pleases Him, and uses whomsoever He will. This is not
to play down the miraculous when it does happen, but rather to get
into perspective, it is not the outward miraculous signs that
final measure of a church, or a person's life, but the fruit
seen by God.
Secondly, those who minister the Spirit do not do it by the works of
the law, but by faith. One can not 'magic' up the Spirit by
formula of words or whatever. Simon the sorcerer thought He
do this but was sharply rebuked by Peter. Acts.
has many applications,
when certain preachers say you have to do certain
God to move in such and such a way then if miracles do take place it
can't be of God, for He never works to 'magic'
incantations. Those miracles that do take place then under those
circumstances have to be suspect, and rejected as being from God. God
moves sovereignty and in response to genuine faith, never according
to our works and systems of methodology.
then were brought
back to the fundamentals of the
gospel. That is: they received the Spirit by grace alone through faith.
It was not a work of theirs, so that they could not boast.
did not do anything to merit the Spirit, for no human being can do
anything to gain God's favour, so no work of the law will do that. Thus
Paul's [rhetorical] question is answered: they received the Spirit by
faith and not works of the law, hence in order to live the Christian
life they must continue in the same way they begun, by faith
not by the
works of the law.
But Paul then takes us back further to another beginning.......