Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all. Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
D1.1 A review
In previous studies we established that when we are born again, we are baptised into the body of Christ and that everything we have in Christ is only because we are in Christ. Thus, we are dead to sin and alive unto God because we are baptised into His death and resurrection; we are anointed only because He is THE anointed one and in Christ we are anointed with His anointing, and so on. We then concluded that we are heirs only because He is THE heir and we are in Him.
Because we have been baptised into Christ we also received the adoption (position) of sons; we are freed from the childlike servant state of being under the Law. Whilst the Gentiles never came from the Jewish background the context of the letter shows that if the Christians were not Jewish originally, then they were being enticed into the Mosaic economy.
And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
How tragic it is that even in these days there are believers who would entice Christians into Judaism, and what we must remember is that present day Judaism is far removed from 1st century Judaism! Also we must also consider and remember that the religious authorities of Jesus’ day mis- represented the Scriptures, disbelieved Jesus and rejected Him outright; since then Judaism has diverged greatly from God, it had to, it had nowhere else to go. And down the annals of history Judaism took on board many godless practices such as the Kabbalah, a Gnostic type of religion, which is still prevalent today in some quarters.
Orthodox Jews deny the Trinity; they reject Christ as the Messiah, and have an empty seat at some of their ceremonies for the Messiah to come; this is a plain denial of the Lord Jesus Christ who has already come! And yet some believers still want us to become Jews by adopting some of their practices! How absurd it all is!
This is not to deny that some have been called to work amongst Jews in order to reach them for Christ, as some are called to work amongst other nations, but as we don’t adopt the pagan practices of the godless heathen. Likewise we mustn’t adopt the Jewish practices either.
D1.2 Eternal Life
But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God…
… this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
This is what true eternal life is, knowing God. Originally Adam and Eve knew God in the garden, God walked with them Gen.3:8, but once they had disobeyed His command that communion was broken. The life that they knew was ended and they were expelled from God’s presence. From that time forth God moved to have fellowship with His created beings restored. This is why Jesus came into the world and suffered on Calvary. He was then raised from the dead and received back to glory from whence He poured forth the Holy Spirit so that men and women might enter into His life. Men and women can therefore know God for themselves.
In the Hebrews passage above we are told explicitly that knowing God is a key point of the New Covenant. In the OC the People of Israel didn’t know God directly, they had to go through a mediator such as Moses, or the High Priest. In fact on one occasion they pleaded to Moses not to let God speak to them! Ex. 20:18-19. The OC, whilst God given, and glorious in its own right, ( but was superseded by the glory of the NC II Cor. 3:7-11), failed on this count. The individual didn’t know God, they didn’t have the Spirit in their hearts. They only had the law on the outside. The tablets of stone were written on by God and placed in the Ark of the Covenant. In the NC God writes His law in our hearts; it is internal.
There is a change of life/disposition when we are born anew, we know God individually, we have His life place din us we become partakers of the Divine nature II Pet. 1:4. This is even more glorious than the OC. Real Biblical Christianity is the life of God in man or woman, not following rules, regulations and obligations. God places His Spirit in us and we live and fulfil the ‘Royal Law’ because it is now our nature to do so. We know God and this is life eternal indeed.
D1.3 Not of ourselves
In the passages above there is the emphasis that it is of God and not of man. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God… Paul makes it clear that the initiative came from God, we did nothing to seek out God Rom. 3:11, He sought us out. If God had not bothered then we would all have been lost without any hope. But thanks be to God who loved us and searched us out that we may have this great salvation!
It is He who puts His Spirit within us, we cannot earn Him, the Spirit is by promise, but is to all who truly turn to Him, Acts 2:38-39. Without the Holy Spirit we have no way of knowing God nor His ways I Cor. 2:10-12. It is all of God, not dependent on us or any man at all, And a good thing it is too, for we are not dependent on how good we are, or what works we can accomplish or the benevolence of any human being; our dependency is on God alone for salvation.
4. Your Position?
To know God is eternal life. What Adam lost in the garden the Lord Jesus Christ has restored to us by His death and resurrection. By His glorification the Holy Spirit has been poured out, and all those who put their trust in Him will be born anew, be baptised into Christ and to know God for themselves.
Dear reader do you know God? Have you been born again from above? Have you had the new heart that God promises to those who put their trust in Him? If not, you do not have the eternal life of which we speak; you are still in your sins and are under condemnation. If you do not have this salvation you must turn to God in repentance and receive His free gift of eternal life. Nothing you can do can earn God’s favour: you need to drop all you efforts of religion, self-righteous works and the such like and enter into this life by simple faith in Him alone.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.