Monday, April 02, 2007

Galatians 6:11-18 & A Divine Appointment

Last, but certainly not least, is my post on Galatians 6:11-18. Originally, I wanted to keep all of the Galatians posts in order. But the Lord had a better idea! His timing is always perfect, even when my timing (usually) is not!

It is amazing how He works in our lives. All we need to do is notice when He does! As Pastor Miles McPherson said at church yesterday, "God's Word has to go before you." That is such a simple, yet profound statement! I will share more about Pastor Miles awesome sermon later this week.

Meanwhile, I will present the final portion of Galatians 6, including a brief summary. I will conclude my portion of this post with chart that lists clues for recognizing the mark of the true gospel, as well as some obvious marks of false gospels.

Following that, I will share an email newsletter that was sent to me by my wonderful Christian sister, Susan Smith, who currently lives in Israel and works in a ministry there called Bridges for Peace. You will see, by this example, how God's timing often works together within the lives of fellow Christian believers!

It's incredible that He had Susan and I meet via the internet almost 2 years ago. She has been such a marvelous influence in my life and Christian walk with Jesus. Through her newsletters, she often shares all of the "little" miracles and Divine appointments that have occurred in her life; especially while living in Israel. In her latest encounter, you will see further evidence that because Susan has been faithful in the "little things" during her Christian walk with Christ, God can trust her with really big things!

Bible Study: Galatians 6:11-18
Not Circumcision but a New Creation

Gal 6:11
See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!

Gal 6:12
As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

Gal 6:13
For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.

Gal 6:14
But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom* the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Gal 6:15
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

Gal 6:16
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

Gal 6:17
From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

Gal 6:18
Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Or by which (the cross)


For 6:11 - In order to emphasize his words here, Paul took the pen from the scribe that he had probably dictated to, and writes his final, personal greetings in his own handwriting. This was to add emphasis to his words and to validate that the letter was genuine.

For 6:12,13 - Some of the Judaizers were emphasizing circumcision as proof of holiness. But it was obvious that they were ignoring the other Jewish laws. Back then, as even today, people often choose a certain principle or prohibition and make it the measure of faith. Some may abhor drunkeness, but ignore gluttony. Others may despise promiscuity, but tolerate prejudice. The Bible in it entirety is our rule of faith and practice. We cannot pick and choose the mandates we will follow.

For 6:14 - We all know quite well that the world is full of enticements. We are confronted on a daily basis with cultural pressures and overt propaganda. The only way to escape these destructive influences is to ask God to help crucify our interest in them, just as Paul did. Ask yourself this question. How much do the interests of this world matter to you? (See Galatians 2:20 and Galatians 5:24 for more on this concept.)

For 6:15 - It is easy to get caught up with the externals. Beware of those who emphasize actions that we should or shouldn't do, with no concern for the inward condition of the heart! Living a good life without an inward change leads to a shallow or empty spiritual walk. What matters to God is that we be completely changed from the inside out (See 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Brief summary of Galatians:

Paul demonstrates that salvation is by faith alone, not by keeping the Jewish laws and traditions. As a result of our faith in Christ, we desire to keep the Commandments, but keeping them does not save us! The law served as a guide to point out our need to be forgiven. Christ fulfilled the obligations of the law for us. We must turn to him to be saved. He alone can make us right with God.

We are saved from God's judgment and penalty for sin (which, without Christ, we would all deserve!) by God's gracious gift to us. We receive salvation by faith - trusting in him - not anything else.

We are free in Christ, and yet freedom is a privilege. We are not free to disobey Christ or practice immorality. Remember, Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." We are free to serve the risen Christ. Let us use our freedom to love and to serve, not to do wrong.

We become Christians through the work of the Holy Spirit. He brings new life; even our faith to believe is a gift from him! The Holy Spirit instructs, guides, leads, and gives us power. He ends our bondage to evil desires, and he creates in us love, joy, peace, and many other wonderful changes.

When the Holy Spirit leads us, he produces his fruit in us. Just as we are saved by faith, not deeds, we also grow by faith. By believing, we can have the Holy Spirit within us, helping us live for Christ.

Obey Christ by following the Holy Spirit's leading.

In our world today, there are many different voices out there proclaiming a false gospel. How can you recognize which is false and which is true? Here is a brief chart (though not exhaustive) from verses in Galatians that may help you discern truth from error:

Marks of a false gospel:

2:21 Treats Christ's death as meaningless. (For a modern day example of this, see this article.)

3:12 Says people must obey the law in order to be saved.

4:10 Tries to find favor with God by observing certain rituals.

5:4 Counts on keeping laws to erase sin.

Marks of the true gospel:

1:11, 12 Teaches that the source of the gospel is God.

2:20 Knows that life is obtained through death; we trust in the God who loved us and died for us so that we might die to sin and live for him.

3:14 Explains that all believers have the Holy Spirit through faith.

3:21,22 Declares that we cannot be saved by keeping laws; the only way of salvation is through faith in Christ, which is available to all.

5:24, 25 Proclaims that we are free from the grip of sin and that the Holy Spirit's power fills and guides us.


Susan's newsletters are always very inspiring and informative. Her relationship with the Lord Jesus is solid, her prayer life exemplary and the experiences she shares in them show God working through her to reach others for Christ in Israel. This real life story, for me, is an absolutely thrilling one! When a person like Susan is willing to step out, by faith, into a subject or situation (that I would think would be way over my head!) where God places you into a position that truly needs His miraculous intervention, it turns out to be foolproof evidence that it is Him working within, and through, the Christian believer to accomplish His work in the lives of others here on this earth.

I have seen instances similar to this happen several times in my own life. Believe me, it is an immensely, powerful, personal experience that you cannot forget!

This posting does not include the entire story, however. Susan will write the conclusion in her next email newsletter. When I get that one, I will share it here at Talkwisdom.


Susan's Newsletter:

Wow! What a ruckus there was going on outside! It was just after nine o'clock at night on Monday, 19 March. This writer had already gone to bed and turned out her light when she heard the sound. It was noisy music, singing and someone speaking over a loud PA system. My thoughts wondered if this was a Jewish wedding, but it seemed unlikely at this late hour. When I first arrived in Israel in 2002, my roommates and I stood on our balcony one Tuesday just before dark and watched a wedding procession go by on the street below. A van with speakers was in the street playing loud music with scores of people gathered around. The van moved slowly down the street and the crowd went along. There was a white wedding canopy on the rear of the van.

This was my first introduction to a traditional Jewish wedding. A Jewish friend told me later that Tuesday is the traditional day for weddings here in Israel, because Tuesday is the third day of the week. The explanation was that on the third day of creation, God's Word created the seed-producing plants and fruit trees, each yielding its own kind of seed-bearing fruit, on the earth. God saw that it was good (see GEN 1:11-12). This sounded like a reasonable explanation. The Bible tells us God created mankind in His image on the sixth day. He created male and female and told them to be fruitful and multiply (see GEN 1:27-28). On the sixth day, God saw all that He had made and it was very good (see GEN 1:31, NIV). God's seventh day of rest was Adam's first day on earth. Adam began his life with the day of rest. There remains a Sabbath-rest for God's people. When we enter God's rest, then we rest from our own works, as God did from His (see HEB 4:9-10). Have you found this place of rest? God Himself gives us all life and breath and everything else (see ACT 17:25). All things came to be through Him (see JOH 1:3). Jesus the Messiah has done everything for us and all true spiritual experience begins from rest.

The commotion going on outside in the street did not sound like a wedding celebration. This writer hoped it would end soon so she could get to sleep. Her alarm goes off a little before five in the morning and from experience she knows plenty of sleep is necessary for good health. The uproar did not cease. Getting up without turning on a light, I raised the wooden shutter on my one window facing the street. A white van was slowly moving toward my apartment. There were flashing white lights in a zigzag pattern all around the top of the van as the music and singing continued. The lights reminded this writer of Christmas lights in the United States. It seemed unbelievable that this type of disturbance was allowed in a civilized country at this hour. My neighborhood has always been reasonably quiet and never before had this type of disorder happened at night.

What in the world was happening outside? By nine thirty, the van was almost in front of my apartment on the street. There is a synagogue next door. The van stopped and I saw maybe a dozen orthodox Jews behind the van dancing in a circle around something one man was holding high in the center of the circle. The bearded men had on their traditional black hats and long black coats. It sounded like a drunken party. My street is a dead-end. There is only one way for traffic to move in and out. There were four individuals with white and yellow caution vests standing in front and behind the van with their hands raised stopping cars from driving around the van. Lights on the van continued to flash and the music was deafening. My thoughts were: "Do people in my neighborhood not have to get up and go to work?" There are many high-rise apartment buildings side by side on my street with hundreds of residents! Surely they heard the disturbance too.

Now everything said over the PA system was in Hebrew so my language barrier prevented me from understanding the "celebration" that was happening outside. A few secular Jews were on the sidewalks watching the commotion. Then a man drove up in a SUV heading out of my street. He stopped and got out of his vehicle. I could hear loud talking between him and a guard. The driver returned to his automobile and got in as his headlights continued to burn. A few minutes later he got out again and the words were louder this second time as the driver talked with two guards. The guards were raising their arms and pointing their fingers at the man and he was pointing back. The driver returned once more to his vehicle. It was obvious he wanted to drive by and the guards would not allow it. The music continued to blare.

At ten o'clock a blue and white police van with blinking lights drove up. Police officers got out and spoke to a few of the people. The music stopped and the crowd was dispersed. The van turned around and drove away. There was no rioting or fighting and there appeared to be no arguments with the police. Everything that was going on simply stopped and the waiting vehicles began to go by on the street. After the excitement was over, this writer shut her window shade and returned to bed. She turned on her reading lamp and read for a while to get sleepy again. The excitement outside proved to be an eye-opening experience for the night. Was my friend Roberto who is studying to be a Jewish rabbi part of the crowd?

This writer talked to Roberto recently and explained to him that she would be leaving Israel, because of strict rules regarding the granting of visas to Christian volunteers after five years stay in the country. He said, "You can go out and come back in." This writer told Roberto she respects the government of Israel and will abide by the law and the rules even though she is aware of some Christians who do go in and out of the country every three months to stay in Israel "legally" as visiting tourists. Roberto said he does not respect the government. He then told me a story of how the present government charged him and his wife too much money. This writer looked him in the face and made no comment. It appeared Roberto wanted me to agree with him that the government was wrong.

We must submit ourselves to all governing authorities. God has established all authorities that exist on earth (see ROM 13:1). Sometimes it is difficult to understand or believe that the authority given to Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany was of God. How can we explain to the families of those tortured and killed by Saddam Hussein's authorities in Iraq that the authority was given by God? Do you remember the question Pilate asked Jesus? "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?" Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above" (see JOH 19:10-11, NIV). We must believe the Word of God. God has given every person on earth a free will. We are free to think evil thoughts that will direct our speech and our actions. Or we can choose to focus our thoughts according to God's Word (see PHI 4:8).

Explaining to Roberto that there is no desire in my heart to stay in Israel was not an easy task. So often this writer has heard that Jews believe Christians have another agenda when they come to Israel. The word "missionary" is not a good word to use around Jews who do not believe Jesus is the Messiah. It is an offensive word to most religious Jews in the flesh. Roberto and I have never discussed the word, but it is obvious Roberto does not consider me a missionary. This writer shared with him that she desires to go wherever the Lord leads and do whatever is God's will. Then it was unexpected and very surprising to hear the words from Roberto's mouth tell exactly why this writer came to Israel.

Roberto is an amazing man. During our conversation, he seemed to be uneasy about the political situation here in Israel. Roberto stood as I sat on my favorite bench that Saturday. He was alone and he was wearing his familiar black hat and coat when he stopped to talk. He nervously wrapped strands of his bushy grey and white beard around the fingers of his right hand as we talked. Roberto said, "In my opinion there will be a nuclear war." There seemed to be no doubt in his voice. Then Roberto abruptly changed the subject and said, "I cannot believe what you do about circumcision."

Wow! Here the subject of circumcision came up again just as it did with Moti, the taxi driver. This covenant of circumcision or brit milah seems to be a real stickler with the Jews in the flesh today just as it was during Bible times. Most Jews in the flesh today believe you cannot be a Jew and also be a Christian, it is considered impossible. Jew and Christian are mutually exclusive terms to most secular and/or orthodox Jews. The idea of a Jewish Christian is ridiculous to most Jews in the flesh. One Jewish brother in Christ who immigrated to Israel told me Messianic believers (Jews who believe Jesus is the Messiah) are a joke to most Jews in the flesh. He told me he is viewed as a traitor or an odd ball.

During Bible times, the question was not could you be a Jewish Christian. The question was: Can one be a Christian without being a Jew in the flesh? You can read about this dispute in Acts chapter fifteen (see ACT 15:1-5). During Bible times the very first Christians were considered a Jewish sect. They were called the Nazarene sect (see ACT 24:5). Jesus the Messiah was called a Nazarene (see MAT 2:23) and He applied the title to Himself (see ACT 22:8). The first Christians who believed in Jesus the Messiah were Jews in the flesh! In the country of Israel today, those who claim to be Jewish and Christian are viewed as weird or peculiar. God tells us we are a holy people and the Lord has chosen us to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations on the face of the earth (see DEU 14:2, KJV). We are a spiritual nation and we are to be spiritual people. We are a holy nation that belongs to God that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light (see 1PE 2:9). God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His Son (see COL 1:13). We are all one in union with the Messiah (see GAL 3:28).

Roberto told me there is an old Jewish legend that says Jews and Arabs can stay in the Land of Israel because they believe in circumcision, but Christians cannot. This writer realized he was talking about fleshly circumcision and she explained that true circumcision is spiritual and it is by the power of God. Roberto listened quietly with no words of objection. You are a Jew if you are one inwardly and true circumcision is of the heart by the Holy Spirit (see ROM 2:29). If you break the law or commit sin, then your circumcision has become uncircumcision (see ROM 2:25) and it is as though you had not been circumcised! Circumcision is nothing and being uncircumcised means nothing; what does mean something is keeping God's commandments (see 1CO 7:19). Roberto smiled and said, "You want to argue with a Jewish legend?" This writer held up her opened Bible with both hands and said, "No, I do not want to argue with a Jewish legend, this is the Word of God." Then Roberto for the second time told the reason for this writer's coming to Israel. He said from his heart in all sincerity, "You came here to do the will of God." I was amazed to hear those words from an orthodox Jew.

This writer does not know if Roberto was part of the excitement on her street that Monday night. The reason for the loud ruckus became evident the next day. It was the Biblical New Year. My calendar shows Tuesday, March 20th is Nisan 1 on the Biblical calendar (see EXO 12:2). Do you remember during creation in Genesis chapter one how there was evening and there was morning for each day? The evening begins a new day here in Israel so Monday night began the first day of the Biblical New Year. What was being held high in the center of the circle of dancing was probably the Torah scroll. The van was coming to the synagogue on my street. Passover will begin at twilight on Monday the fourteenth day of the first month, Nisan (see LEV 23:5). The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the fifteenth and First Fruits is the seventeenth. Jesus the Messiah was crucified on Nisan 14, buried on Nisan 15 and raised from the dead by the power of God on Nisan 17. In ancient Israel (long before Jesus came to earth in the flesh) sheaves of barley were waved before the Lord during the Feast of First Fruits (see LEV 23:9-14). Today in Israel, the Festival of First Fruits is not observed in traditional Judaism.

Next week we will talk more about these appointed times of God. Before coming to Israel five years ago, this writer considered the seven festivals of God to be of little significance regarding her Christian life on earth today. A greater spiritual understanding of the feasts has been a big key in unlocking the mystery concerning my personal relationship with God. There is always much more in this eternal life we are experiencing. Eternal life is to know the only true God and Jesus the Messiah whom He sent (see JOH 17:3). Christ in us is the hope of glory (see COL 1:27). We are in Him by faith and He is in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you have a desire to learn more? This writer has just begun to learn about the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah. She is beginning to learn how believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The feasts are a shadow of things that were to come and that are coming; however, the reality is found in Jesus the Messiah (see COL 2:17). Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us (see ROM 15:4). Come with me as we continue this journey. Do you believe? ~ Susan Smith


Christinewjc said...

Dear Susan,

To answer your final question from your terrific newletter...YES! I believe!!

I am enjoying our walk with Christ via this blog and through email. What a joy it is to share the love of Jesus with others and tell each other of those little miracles and Divine appointments!

God bless you this day, and always!

Love & Belief,

Susan Smith said...

Your notes written by the love of Christ in you are appreciated since I was a drunkard for more than 30 years and an active lesbian for more than 20 years. Christine said:

“Some may abhor drunkenness, but ignore gluttony. Others may despise promiscuity, but tolerate prejudice. The Bible in its entirety is our rule of faith and practice. We cannot pick and choose the mandates we will follow.” And “Living a good life without an inward change leads to a shallow or empty spiritual walk. What matters to God is that we be completely changed from the inside out (See 2 Corinthians 5:17).”

The Lord works in our lives from the inside out. Many try to change others from the outside in, but this is not the WAY. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (see JOH 14:6). So often we see ministries running around with programs and plans to change others, but only one thing is needed (see LUK 10:42). There is coming a Day when we all will be still and know that HE is God (see PSA 46:10). As you said, Christine: God's timing does indeed work together within the lives of fellow Christian believers! We are being knit together powerfully as the one Church body of the Messiah. The Lord always has a better idea and it is always the “best” idea. His timing is always perfect. His ways and thoughts are above ours (see ISA 55:9) and all His ways are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of His covenant (see PSA 25:10).

God bless you Christine. Thank you for being such a faithful servant of the one God we worship. We are never to go beyond what is written (see 1CO 4:6). Jesus the Messiah is the Living Word who became flesh (see JOH 1:14). HE is the rock of our salvation (see PSA 95:1) and as we stand together on this Rock, we will realize our eternal life (see JOH 17:3) more and more. The power of God has made you, my “little” sister, a mighty blessing to many the world over. May He fill you with the knowledge of His will for your life in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so you will be worthy of the call He has on your life. Talk Wisdom is a global ministry. Praise His Name. I love you and remain yours in Christ. (ss)

Christinewjc said...

Thanks you so much Susan. You continue to be an inspiration to me!

That verse in Corinthians describes what happens at conversion so well:

2Cr 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

We can't do it without Christ in our lives! It is Him who makes us that "new creation."

It is also Christ in you, me, and all born-again Christians everywhere that the Holy Spirit continues to minister to us, and others. It is all God's work...not our own "lest anyone should boast."

God's Word is the powerful cornerstone of faith. Jesus is the Living Word of Truth. As you shared from Scripture, He is "the way, the truth and the life." No one comes to the Father but by Him!!

I appreciated all that you added in your comment Susan. Thanks again for allowing me to post your newsletter. I'm sure it was awe-inspiring to many readers!

I am looking forward to reading about your next encounter with Roberto. It will be so exciting to see what God does through you, in yet another Divine Appointment!

Love & God Bless in Christ,