Center Point Bible Study is excited to be back meeting in the Fellowship Hall from 6:46 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.. We encourage everyone to dig into God’s Word together and share what the Lord is teaching them. We endeavor to journey chronologically through the Book of Acts and read Paul’s Epistles as they fit into the narrative. This study is open to anyone who would like to take part! We love you all dearly and look forward to the time when we can be together again! Pastor Colin, Buck Mills, and Jim Conaway facilitate this Life Group. The New Creations Children’s Life Group also meets during this time for children 2 years old through 5th grade. CDC protocols are in place and masks are required for the children and adults.
The notes for the Center Point Study will be posted every Wednesday below with a link to the archived notes here, Center Point Archive.
We encourage everyone to dig into God’s Word together and share what the Lord is teaching them.
We endeavor to journey chronologically through the Book of Acts and read Paul’s Epistles as they fit into the narrative. We are currently going through the Letter to the Galatians.
A link to the Bible Projects website on Galatians is posted below and is a great resource to help with this study. GALATIANS – The Bible Project [Click Here]
This study is open to anyone who would like to take part! We love you all dearly and look forward to the time when we can be together again!
Pastor Colin, Buck Mills, and Jim Conaway facilitate this Life Group.
NOTES FOR CENTER POINT BIBLE STUDY
September 23, 2020
Buck Mills, Teaching Staff
Boast in the Cross
Boast in the Cross
Paul is closing his letter to the church in Galatia. Having covered a wide variety of topics in this letter, Paul focusses on a couple specific points. Earlier in chapter 6, Paul writes “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.” Some things in this life can be hidden from other people, like motive. Yet the God of heaven and earth is an all-consuming fire and He knows all, even our hearts desire. It is both a glorious and dreadful time when each one will stand before the judgement seat to give an account for their lives. At that moment, what in this life can we boast in before the throne of our Father in heaven?
Galatians 6:11-18 (ESV)
11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to[b] the Israel of God.
17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
Observations / Notes
We see in 1 Cor 16:21-24, Col 4:18, and 2 Thessalonians 3:17 that Paul often authenticates his letters with the use of a postscript and to add a personal touch. In the ancient world, it was typical to dictate a letter to a secretary or amanuensis who would write the letter, like a modern-day stenographer. The author would either use the introduction or postscript for authentication where they would write a small portion in their own handwriting.
The use of ‘large letters’ has had various interpretations among scholars. Some think that it is referring to an issue with his eyesight, but it is more likely that the letters are large for emphasis.
“Most commentators consider that he used large letters deliberately, either because he was treating his readers like children (rebuking their spiritual immaturity by using baby writing) or simply for emphasis… much as we would use capital letters or underline words today.” (Stott)
Some in the Galatian church were holding onto legalistic traditions from their Jewish heritage. A main sticking point among the legalistic Christians was circumcision. It is not circumcision itself that Paul is addressing, he is pointing out the motive behind the use of circumcision in the Galatian church. Physical circumcision was nothing more than a show that the legalistic Christians were using to justify themselves. They may have pretended to be concerned for the Gentile Christians by bringing them under the Jewish law, but Paul, by the Spirit, saw through their charade. The Gentile foreskin had possibly become somewhat of a trophy just as David had done with the Philistines.
The words that Paul uses in his description of the motive of the legalistic Christians are: ‘impress people’, ‘compel’, ‘avoid being persecuted’, and ‘boast… in the flesh’. There was no genuine concern for the Gentile Christians. They put more emphasis on works of the flesh for justification, rather than the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and compelled the Gentile Christians in this way. There was an underlying element of fear that was driving their actions, possibly persecution by the Romans or from others in the Jewish tradition. They were exalting themselves in what they saw as a work of salvation in the lives of the Gentile Christians, bypassing the need for a savior.
Galatians 1:10 (ESV)
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
John 12:42-43 (ESV)
42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
John 12:42-43 (ESV)
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
Paul made himself clear earlier in the letter that he does not put any weight on pleasing other people. His glory is found in Christ, the sacrificial lamb, who bore the cross for the sins of all mankind. Paul had direct revelation from Jesus, the risen savior, on the road to Damascus, Acts 9, and that event radically altered the course of his life. At that point, the world was crucified to him as his eyes were shut and then opened to new life in Christ. Only the Spirit can do this work in a person’s life.
Romans 6:8 (ESV)
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
“What did he mean, however, by the cross? Of course he cared nothing for the particular piece of wood to which those blessed hands and feet were nailed, for that was mere materialism, and has perished out of mind. He means the glorious doctrine of justification-free justification-through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” (Spurgeon)
The physical circumcision that was the initiation to living under the Mosaic Law was a big deal in the Jewish tradition and was carried into the early church. Paul addressed it throughout this letter and summarizes it succinctly in verse 15. Christianity is something God does in us, not something we do for God. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision can add or take away from what God has done, is doing, or will do. Only God can make one a new creation. This shows the difference between the systems of grace and law.
Are there any ceremonies in our current culture that we place a higher value on than the work of God in someone’s life?
The Greek word ‘kanon’ translated ‘rule’ refers to a carpenter’s or surveyor’s line by which a direction is taken. Paul pronounces a blessing of peace and mercy to those who follow the direction that Christ walked. The Israel of God are the true descendants of Abraham according to faith, Gal 3.
Paul wrote as someone who suffered for Christ and who bore those marks on his body. He took great care to authenticate his ministry earlier in this letter, Gal 1-2, and refers back to his personal encounter with the Galatians as he was almost beaten to death, Acts 14:19. In a sense, we could say that there is nothing that can trouble Paul as his future is secure in Christ. Yet, it is painful for him to see those he loves walking in false teachings.
Paul wants nothing more than the Galatians to take hold of the grace of Jesus Christ in their spirits. As grace penetrates their essence or being, they will no longer put any merit on a legal, performance-based relationship with God.
What is at the root of your relationship with God?
“After the storm and stress and intensity of the letter comes the peace of the benediction. Paul has argued and rebuked and cajoled but his last word is GRACE, for him the only word that really mattered.” (Barclay)