Life-Study of Galatiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In chapter three there is a strong contrast between faith and law. Law was the basis for the relationship between man and God in the Old Testament, whereas faith is the principle by which people contact God in the New Testament. The Old Testament was a dispensation of law, whereas the New Testament is a dispensation of faith. As the basis for the relationship between man and God, the law requires that man use his own effort to fulfill the law’s requirements in order to please God. The law is not related to God intrinsically. Rather, it stands apart from God and places demands upon man that must be fulfilled if man is to please God. According to the principle of faith, man is not required to strive in his flesh to please God. Instead, man is to hear how God desires to be everything to him. God has planned to bless us. For our sake, He became incarnated, lived on earth, and died to accomplish redemption. He has been resurrected from among the dead and has become the life-giving Spirit. Now He is calling people to receive Him. He is eagerly expecting to come into people and to be their life and their everything so that they may be one with Him. This is the hearing of faith.
In this hearing of faith, we hear all the well-speaking of God, all His blessing. Faith involves the hearing concerning all the good things of God toward us. Through this hearing an appreciation for the Lord Jesus is awakened within us. Out of our appreciation for the Lord, we spontaneously call on His name. In this way we receive Him, accept Him, and join ourselves to Him. Then we go on to partake of Him and enjoy Him. All this is related to faith. Law requires man to work, but faith receives all that God is, all that God has planned and purposed, all that God has accomplished, all that God has obtained and attained, and all that God intends to impart into us. With law, there are demands. But with faith there are no demands; there is only the receiving of the processed Triune God. By receiving the Triune God, we also receive redemption, salvation, forgiveness, eternal life, and all the heavenly, divine, and spiritual things. What a contrast between law and faith! Surely it is foolish to turn from faith and go back to the law.
We have pointed out that Galatians 3 is a very difficult chapter, one of the most difficult chapters in the New Testament. In this chapter Paul seems to go from one subject to another. Many read this chapter without having any idea what Paul is talking about. It seems that the points covered are not related to one another. The way to understand this chapter is not to go verse by verse. Rather, it is to concentrate on the main points. In this chapter Paul covers at least twelve major subjects: Christ crucified; Christ and the Spirit; the hearing of faith versus works of law; the Spirit as the blessing of the gospel; the Spirit versus the flesh; the gospel preached to Abraham; the promise versus the law; faith replacing law; the seed of Abraham and the sons of Abraham; baptized into Christ; putting on Christ; and all one in Christ. These are the crucial points in this chapter. If we spend time to consider them and to dwell on them in prayer, we shall be greatly helped in understanding this chapter.
Having covered the subjects of Christ crucified, Christ and the Spirit, and the hearing of faith versus works of law, we come in this message to the Spirit as the blessing of the gospel. During the years I have been a Christian, I have heard that many things are the blessing of the gospel: salvation, redemption, forgiveness, eternal life. In Christianity people are often told that being able to go to heaven and to live in a mansion is a great blessing related to the gospel. Have you ever heard that the blessing of the gospel is the Spirit?
In the Bible, where words are always used economically, the Spirit has a particular meaning, somewhat different from the Holy Spirit. In Galatians Paul speaks not of the Holy Spirit, but of the Spirit. The total blessing of the gospel is not salvation, redemption, forgiveness, life, or going to heaven—it is the Spirit. The Spirit denotes the Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—who has been processed through incarnation, human living, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Only after He had entered into resurrection did the Lord Jesus command His disciples to baptize people into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The reason for this is that prior to the resurrection of Christ, the Triune God had not been fully processed. In the words of John 7:39, the Spirit was “not yet,” even though the Holy Spirit was already in existence, as indicated by the record of Matthew 1 and Luke 1. The New Testament tells us clearly that the Holy Spirit was involved in the conception of the Lord Jesus in the womb of the virgin Mary. But the Spirit as the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit was “not yet” until the resurrection of Christ. John 7:39 tells us that the Spirit was not yet because Jesus was not yet glorified. The Lord was glorified in His resurrection (Luke 24:26). Therefore, after His glorification by resurrection, the Spirit was in existence.
From the Gospels we proceed to the Acts and to the Epistles. Paul’s ministry was a completing ministry. In Colossians 1:25 he says that he became a minister according to the stewardship of God to complete the word of God. Hence, the completion of God’s word is found neither in the Gospels, nor in the Acts, but in the Epistles of Paul. In particular, the divine revelation is completed in four books: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. In Paul’s Epistles the Spirit is revealed in a full way. We do not have such a revelation of the Spirit in the Gospels or in the Acts. The Spirit as revealed in Paul’s writings is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit processed to become the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit. This Spirit enters into the believers to be their life and everything to them. Such a Spirit is the total blessing of the gospel. As the blessing of the gospel, the Spirit includes forgiveness, redemption, salvation, reconciliation, justification, eternal life, the divine nature, the uplifted and resurrected human nature, and the very Triune God Himself.
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