A Christian Manifesto

Galatians

A Christian Manifesto

June 18th, 1972 @ 10:50 AM

Galatians 1

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.
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A CHRISTIAN MANIFESTO

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Galatians 1:1-24

6-18-72    10:50 a.m.

 

On the radio and on television, you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the message entitled: A Christian Manifesto, our Christian Magna Carta.  This morning, I shall begin a series on the Book of Galatians.  Almost always – in fact always, except little periods of time in between – I am preaching through a book in the Bible.  And today, we begin with the Book of Galatians.  And for the next several Sundays, the messages will continue from the chapters and the verses of this phillipic and polemic.  A Christian Manifesto, Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia: "Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead;) . . . unto the churches of Galatia" [Galatians 1:1-2].

I am first of all surprised at the people to whom he addresses this letter.  They are Gauls.  They are here called Galatians, Gauls.  When I think of Gaul, "Omnia Gallia en tres partes sunt." That’s the way Caesar begins his epic, his great history.  All Gaul is divided into three parts, and he’s talking about France; and the modern Gaul is a Frenchman.  Yet these churches are in the heart of central Asia.  What happened is, in history, practically all the migrations of the human family have been from the east to the west.  Out of the heartland of Asia, out of the steppes of Russia, have come those floods that have overwhelmed Western Europe.

But one time, and this is the only instance I know of it – one time, there was an ebb, there was an undertow.  And when these people, the Gauls, the Gaelic people, when they finally came to the western shores of Europe, some of them found the climate inhospitable, or the land not quite fertile, and they turned back eastward; and following in a southeasterly direction, came to Greece.  There they were repulsed by the Greeks.  But crossing the Hellespont, they conquered the central part of Asia Minor and settled there.  This was about 280 BC.  In 180 BC, they were conquered by the Romans; and in 26 BC, they were formed, organized, into the Roman province of Galatia.  Now these churches were the churches that were founded by Paul upon his first missionary journey [Acts 13:1-14:28].  The city in Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, and other churches who grew out of that witness, these are the Gauls; these are the churches of Galatia.  And it is to them that Paul addresses this polemical epistle.

As we read the language and sense the dramatic, passionate appeal encompassed in the words, we cannot but marvel ourselves at the deep trouble that is reflected here in the heart of the apostle Paul.  For example – and I’ll read three passages to illustrate his passionate, dramatic concern – in the first chapter:

 

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Which is not another; for there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed – let it be anathema.

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be cursed.

[Galatians 1:6-9]

 

I turn the page.  This is the beginning of the third chapter:

 

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

This only will I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

[Galatians 3:1-3]

 

And look again, in the eighth verse of the fourth chapter of the book; beginning of the ninth verse:

 

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?  I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.

 [Galatians 4:9, 11]

 

It is easily seen from the very tone of the epistle, from the very language that he uses, that the apostle is deeply and passionately moved.  Now, why?  Why?  The answer is very plain, and it is twofold.  One: these churches are in danger of apostatizing, not from the name of Christ – as though they were turning their backs upon the Lord as such – but they are in danger of being overwhelmed by a heresy; which is that of these false brethren, who have said to them to trust in Christ is not alone; you cannot be saved just by giving your heart to Jesus, but you must add to it laws, and creeds, and rites, and rituals, and ceremonies.  That was the first: the churches are in danger of being subverted and perverted by a perversion, a heresy of the gospel, as though Christ alone, and faith in Him alone, were not able to save; but we must also add to it these other rites, these other rituals, these other ceremonies, these other laws.

Second: the apostle is deeply moved, not only because of the danger of the heretical subversion of the churches, but he himself has been violently and viciously attacked.  For these false emissaries who deigned to be representatives of the twelve original apostles, they are saying to the churches of Galatia that this Paul is a pseudo-apostle.  He is a renegade apostle.  He is a false apostle.  He is not a true disciple of Christ, nor is he one of the twelve.  "What he knows," they say, "he learned from the twelve, and he preaches that in a perverted form.  This man, Paul, is not a true apostle, nor is he a true representative of the message of Christ."

It was in answer to those two things that the apostle wrote this burning letter to the churches of Galatia.  First, he defends his apostolic authority; that is in chapters 1 and 2.  Second, he defends the nature of the gospel, that it is of grace and faith, and in Christ alone; that is chapters 3 and 4.  And in chapters 5 and 6, he is hortatory; he pleads with the Galatians to keep the faith, to trust in Christ, and find in Him alone that mediation of the love and mercy of God that someday can present us without fault or blemish in the presence of His glory.

Now, for the moment, let us look at the defense of the apostle for his apostolic ministry.  He says:

 

My brethren I certify unto you –

I swear unto, I guarantee unto you –

that the gospel which was preached to me is not after man.

For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but I received it by direct revelation of Jesus Christ Himself.

[Galatians 1:11, 12]

 

When we have the Lord’s Supper in our church, I always read the passage in 1 Corinthians 11:[23] which begins: "For I have received from the Lord Jesus that which also I delivered unto you" [1 Corinthians 11:23].  "I received it from the Lord Himself.  No man taught it to me.  No man mediated the truth to me, but Christ Himself revealed it to me and spoke to me these things."  That’s the way he says of the whole gospel that he preaches: "My brethren, the gospel which I preach unto you is not after man, neither was I taught it by a man, neither did I receive it of a man, but I received it by direct revelation of Jesus Christ.  He told me face to face. These are His words, and He revealed them unto me personally" [Galatians 1:11, 12].  This is what Paul avows concerning the gospel that he preached, that he took it directly, and received it in communication directly, from the mouth of the Lord Himself.

Then he continues: "When I was converted on the Damascus road, after I was saved, I went not up to Jerusalem to them which are apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus [Galatians 1:17].  Then after three years" – when he was saved, when he met Christ on the Damascus road [Acts 9:1-6], for three years he was in the deserts of Arabia with the Lord.  Where the Lord spoke to him, and taught him, and revealed Himself to him:

 

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him just fifteen days. 

I did not see any of the other apostles, save James the Lord’s brother, who is the pastor of the church at Jerusalem.

 [Galatians 1:18, 19]

 

Paul is avowing that "The message that I preach, and the gospel that I proclaim and declare, I was not taught it by a man [Galatians 1:11-12]; least of all by Simon Peter, or by James, or by John.  But I learned it and was taught it directly from Christ in heaven."

Then the second chapter: "After fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus – a Greek – with me" [Galatians 2:1].  This is the passage that we all read together in Acts 15, the first Jerusalem conference.  In Antioch where Paul and Barnabas were preaching, those idolatrous Greeks came directly out of their heathenism, and paganism, into "the light of the knowledge of the glory of the God in the face of Jesus Christ" [2 Corinthians 4:6].  They were saved directly out of their heathenism into the liberty of the grace of Christ [Acts 13:44-, 14:27].

But these Judaizing teachers came down from Jerusalem and said, as though they were speaking for James, the pastor of the church, and for the apostles in Jerusalem, they came and said: "You can’t be saved just by trusting the Lord.  You must keep the law, its rites, its ceremonies, and its commandments.  You must add to that faith in Christ all of these other rituals and commandments" [Acts 15:1-5].

There was a great altercation and disputation [Acts 15:2].  As the Greek says, "There was a paroxysm in the church there at Antioch."  And they went up to Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul taking Titus, a specimen, an exhibit "A," a Greek, who had been marvelously saved out of heathenism directly into the heart of God.  They took Titus with them [Galatians 2:1-3].  And there, Paul says:

 

When James, the pastor of the church – when Cephas, Simon Peter, and John, the sainted apostle who wrote the Revelation – when they, these men who seemed to be pillars, when they perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave unto Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, to the Gentiles, and they unto the Jew.

[Galatians 2:9]

 

That is, they are peers.  Paul and Barnabas are not beneath Simon Peter or James, the pastor of the church, or John; but they shook hands and agreed.  And may I say here, I don’t think God is displeased with denominations.  You have the first denomination there.  You have an Ebionitic Christianity; that is, a Christianity that is identified with the Jewish religion.  You have the Ebionitic faith, which is preached by James, and Cephas, and John.  They were Jews who remained Jews and kept the ceremonial law, the ritualistic law, as well as the Ten Commandments.

But it was decided that there should be another message, and this one was to be contained largely in the circle of the Gentile.  And as James, Cephas, and John should go unto the Jew; Barnabas and Paul and the men with him should go unto the Gentiles [Galatians 2:9].  And they should be friends in the faith, though they belong to two different denominations.

I think there are some people who like being Episcopal.  I think there are some people who like being Pentecostal.  I say, God bless them both!  We’re not to hate each other, or lose confidence in each other or respect in each other, because some like to be ritualistic, and liturgical, and Episcopalian; and some like to clap their hands, and stamp their foot, and sing on a guitar, and they like Pentecostalism – that’s fine.  There’s a little of both of them in me.  I like them both.

Then, regarding his place as an apostle:

When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

For before certain came from James, the pastor there at Jerusalem, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

[Galatians 2:11, 12]

 

What happened to Simon Peter was, while he was with Paul and Barnabas, he liked the liberty and the freedom of the Gentile church.  But, when some of those brethren came from the mother church at Jerusalem, immediately he dissembled, and he withdrew himself, and he disassociated himself.  And Paul says: "I rebuked him to his face" [Galatians 2:11, 14].  For he said, "That is downright, sheer, unadulterated hypocrisy, that you would seek to lay upon these Gentile Christians the burden, and the yoke that, as Simon Peter later said, our fathers nor we are able to bear [Acts 15:10].  And yet, you seek the liberty that we enjoy down here in this church in Antioch."

All of which is the defense of the apostle Paul of his apostolic ministry, that he is a called apostle.  He calls himself that: "Paul, a called apostle," translated in the King James Version: "Paul, called to be an apostle" [1 Corinthians 1:1].  No, he is "Paul, a called apostle," set aside for this work; just as much so as Simon Peter or James, the Lord’s brother, or John the sainted writer of the Apocalypse.

Now, in the second part of the epistle, he speaks of the defense of the gospel itself.  He says: "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" [Galatians 3:6; Genesis 15:6].  Not by works of the law, but by faith Abraham was justified in the sight of God.  This passage is out of the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis.  When Abraham came before God and said: "My heir is this Eliezer of Damascus, and You promised a son, and there is no son born, and I am old, and Sarah my wife is old."

And God said to Abraham: "Come outside."

And under the starry chalice of the sky He said, "Number the stars, which no man can number."  And God said, "So shall thy seed be.  He shall be born out of thy loins and out of the womb of thy wife Sarah" [Genesis 15:2-5].

Then the passage: "And Abraham believed God; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness" [Genesis 15:6].  He was accepted of the Lord, not because of the works that he did, or the commandments that he kept, or because of the rituals that he had observed, but he was accepted of God because he believed in God and trusted in God.  Abraham believed God, and that was his righteousness, his faith, his trust.

Then he continues:

 

It is written in the law – and this is from the Deuteronomy letter [Deuteronomy 21:22-23] – Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all the things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident: for – then he quotes from Habakkuk [Habakkuk 2:4] – the just shall live by faith.

[Galatians 3:10, 11]

 

What the apostle is saying here is that if he were to keep the law, you could be saved, but who keeps it?  Cursed is everyone that doesn’t keep every bit of the law.  The law is like a great chain – say, a chandelier held up by a great chain.  You don’t have to break every link in the chain for the chandelier to fall.  Just break one of the links and it disassociates itself from the ceiling.  It falls!  So it is with a man.  If you’re going to be saved by the law, you have to keep every law.  And if you break one of them, you’re a sinner; you are fallen.  "Cursed is everyone that keeps not every word of this law" [Galatians 3:10]: That’s in Deuteronomy itself [Deuteronomy 21:22-23].

Well, how’s a man going to be justified then if he cannot keep the law, if he’s not perfect, and he cannot be perfect?  Though he might desire to be perfect; he still knows failure, and fault, and sin, and error, and shortcoming.  How is he to be saved?  God says, according to the apostle, that "The just," the righteous, the saved, "shall live by faith" [Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Hebrews 10:38].  It is something God does for us that we cannot do by ourselves.

Then, in the great hortatory, he says: "The law therefore, is a paidagogos to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" [Galatians 3:24], that we might be saved in Him.  A paidagogos in the Greco-Roman culture was a slave in an affluent household who took a little child by the hand and led the child through the unsafe streets and across city to the schoolmaster – a paidagogos.  And Paul says: "The law is paidagogos to bring us to Christ [Galatians 3:24].

The law is a great plumbline against which our lives are cast, and it shows the crookedness of our lives.  The law reveals the sin in our lives, the shortcoming in our lives; and the law takes us to Jesus.  There we confess our shortcomings and our sins, and we cast ourselves upon the mercies of God.  There’s no other way to be saved except in the goodness, and the favor, and the grace of God [Ephesians 2:8-9].  We are justified by faith [Romans 5:1].  We are declared righteous by trusting God for it [Galatians 3:6]; for we cannot make righteous ourselves [Isaiah 64:6].

Then, in the continuing appeal, "Christ is become of no effect unto you, all of you who are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace" [Galatians 5:4], you have turned aside from the gospel, and you are seeking by some way to save yourself.  "But God forbid that I should glory, I should boast, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" [Galatians 6:14].

This is the philippic, the polemic, the great defense of the faith called the letter of Paul to the churches of Galatia.  It is the Magna Carta of Christian liberty.  It is a manifesto of the Christian faith, and it has been used as such through the centuries.  When Martin Luther was on his knees climbing up the Scala Sancta, the sacred stairway in front of St. John Lateran in Rome, halfway up, there came like a thunderbolt this letter to the churches of Galatia, and its theme, "The just shall live by faith" [Galatians 3:11].  Martin Luther stood up, walked down those steps, back to Wittenberg, and on the door of the cathedral nailed his ninety-five theses, and the liberty, and the cause of the Reformation was on.

This epistle is a defense of the faith, for there has been no generation, nor has there been any phenomenon of the Christian faith but that has been infected and afflicted with this Galatian heresy.  Always, it is the tendency on the part of those who proclaim the gospel of Christ to add to it that a man cannot be saved by faith; he cannot be saved by trusting Jesus, he must trust Jesus and he must do something else.  That is the Galatian heresy, and it is the heresy that has infected and afflicted the Christian faith from the beginning.  It is preached everywhere.

How is a man saved?  "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized, and thou shall be saved" [Mark 16:16].  That’s one of them.  The Gospel of Mark ends at the eighth verse, and from the ninth verse to the end, some unknown somebody tried to finish it [Mark 16:9-20].  From the beginning, the Gospel of Mark, the end of it was lost.  When Matthew wrote his Gospel, and when Luke wrote his Gospel, they had Mark before them; but the ending of Mark was lost even when Matthew held it in his hand, and when Luke held it in his hand.

I don’t know who finished that, but that is a typical Galatian heresy.  In Mark, the sixteenth chapter: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," [Mark 16:16].

No!  Or, they say: "He that believeth and take the Lord’s Supper, the mass, shall be saved."  Or, "He that believeth and leads a good life and keeps the commandments, he will be saved."  Or, "He that believeth and observes the Sabbath day."  They avow that the mark of Cain, and the mark of the beast, is worshipping God on Sunday, when the Christians worshipped the Lord on Sunday from the beginning.  They never worshipped any other day but on the Sunday, the first day of the week, the resurrection day, the Lord’s Day.  And yet they say, "How are you saved?  By trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ and observing the Sabbath day."

This is not the gospel.  This is the Galatian heresy.  What is the gospel? [1 Corinthians 15:1-4] The gospel is that simple proclamation: "Look and live – wash and be clean – believe and be saved.  Christ alone – look and live!"

As John wrote it in John 3:14: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  Look and live!  Wash and be clean!  As it is in Revelation 7:14: "These are they who, have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."  Wash and be clean!  Or, believe and be saved!  Acts 16:30: "What must I do to be saved?"  Acts 16:31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."  It is Christ alone, not Christ and something else!  It is He!  "The just shall live by faith" [Galatians 3:11].  "Abraham believed God, and his faith was accounted [unto him] for righteousness" [Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3].

Now in this moment that remains may I summarize that gospel in three characterizations, taking it from the Book of Galatians and from the Revelation?  Christ gave to the apostle Paul three things; one: our salvation is ever, ever personal and not legalistic.  It is ever personal and not ritualistic.  It is ever personal and not ceremonial.  It is not something that men do, but it is something that God does.  It is a personal relationship.  A man is not saved by keeping up code of ethics, or by observing a set of rules, or by following these ordinances and rituals and litanies; but a man is saved by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is something between you and Him, and you are saved in that confrontation, in that personal relationship [Matthew 11:28].  And that is the power of God to the changing of a life.

I could not illustrate better than to say it’s like falling in love.  Here is a boy that falls in love.  He’s something else; he’s changed; he’s different.  From then on, all he thinks about is her – to please her, to do something for her, to remember her.  He’s fallen in love; he’s somebody else.  That’s the way it is in being saved.  A man finds Christ, and he gives his life pleasing to Christ, thinking of the Lord, loving the Lord.  It is a personal confrontation.  It is a personal relationship.

It’s with you and the Lord.  And these creeds, and these laws, and these ethical commandments, and these rites, and these rituals, and these ceremonies, and these litanies, they’re something beside.  But the heart of the thing is your relationship with Christ; to talk to Him – that you call prayer – to read about Him here in the Book of the Revelation, to love the Lord, and your heart flows out to Him – and in life, in manhood, in womanhood, in age and death, at the great judgment bar and forever – it is the Lord.  It is personal and not legalistic, or ceremonial, or ritualistic.

Second: it is inward and not outward.  It is something on the inside of your soul between you and God.  I’ve been asked this week, I’ve been asked many, many, many times, "Why is it, pastor, that you have these junior boys and girls – these youngsters – why do you have them come twice?  Why do you do that?  Down here to the front twice?"

The answer is very plain.  I early discovered that an untaught child easily gets the impression that they’re saved by being baptized; by being a member of the church; by coming into the fellowship of the church.  That’s when they became a Christian; that’s when they were saved.  But I know, and you do, that there are many, many, people who are in the church who are not saved.  There are Sunday school teachers who are not saved.  There are deacons who are not saved.  There are even preachers who are not saved!  You’re not saved by being baptized, nor are you saved by becoming a member of the church.  There has to be something that happens to you on the inside of your heart.  You must give yourself to Christ to be saved [Acts 16:31].

So, I have the child come first.  This time, he’s accepting Jesus as his Savior and that’s something – to forgive his sins, to regenerate his spirit; to write his name in the Book of Life – that no man can do.  I can make a member of the church out of the child; I can baptize the child; but only God can regenerate the heart and save the youngster.  So the first time the youngster comes, he comes on a confession of faith.  "I’ve had an experience with Jesus.  I’ve accepted the Lord in my heart.  I’m a Christian."  And that’s what it is to be a Christian – not to be baptized; not to be a member of the church – what it is to be a Christian is in your heart.  It’s in your soul.  It’s something between you and God.

So the child comes, and he gives his heart to Jesus.  Then I give him a little book on what it means to be baptized, what it means to take the Lord’s Supper, and what it means to be a good Christian and good member of the church.  And then after they’re taught that, then the father and mother bring them to me and I talk to them.  And then we present them to the church as candidates for baptism.  But it has nothing to do with their salvation [1 Peter 3:21].  If they’re not saved before they’re baptized, they’re members of the church, unsaved.

We’re saved alone by something on the inside of our hearts, between us and God.  It’s something we do when we accept Jesus as our Savior [Acts 16:31].  And church membership is something else and beside.  It is inward, inward – It’s not outward.

Third: it is spiritual and not material.  That is, it is of faith and of promise.  One of the sweetest verses in the Bible is the last, the eighteenth verse of the second Corinthian fourth chapter: "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal: but the things which are not seen are eternal" [2 Corinthians 4:18].

These are the things that are seen here, here – this church; this whole world itself – these are things that are seen.  "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth" [Isaiah 40:8].  Heaven and earth passes away [Matthew 24:35].  What are the things that are not seen that abide forever?  These are the things of the faith and of the grace and of our salvation.  They’re that relationship we have with Christ, the union with Him that goes beyond life, that goes beyond the grave, that lasts through all of the eternity that is yet to come, by promise, by faith, by acceptance, the word of Jesus [1 John 5:12]. 

I began preaching when I was seventeen years of age.  And out there in the country where I preached, I heard the most marvelous testimonies.  When they were saved, they’d seen a light from heaven.  They’d seen an angel.  They’d seen a ball of fire fall from the sky.  Oh, marvelous things!  And I fell in the most agonizing frustration that you could imagine or describe.  On Sunday, I’d preach in my little church, and then every night during the week, I’d get down by the side of my bed and tell the Lord, "I’m not really saved.  I’m not born again.  I’m not a Christian.  I haven’t seen a light.  I haven’t seen a ball of fire.  I haven’t seen an angel from heaven."  And I’d pray, "O God, O God, show me a sign!  Give me a light.  Give me a – give me a miracle, Lord.  Let a ball of fire break over my head and strike me to the ground, as some of them say they have experienced it.  Or let me see an angel, O God, that I might know that I’m saved."

Ah, I can hardly believe it when I look back over those days.  As I read the Bible and read the Scriptures, I finally came into that fullness of knowledge that I’m not saved by the sight of an angel or by the striking down of a brilliant, searing beam of light.  Nor am I saved by a ball of fire that breaks over my head.  I am saved by trusting in the word and promise of Christ, to Him alone.  And I took John 1:12 as my assurance, and do today: "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even to them that trust in His name" [John 1:11-12].

And when I was ten years of age, a little boy, a junior boy, when I was ten years of age, the best I knew how, the best a little boy could, I received Christ as my Savior.  And I went down to the front and in tears told the pastor that I had opened my heart to Christ and I received the Lord as my Savior.  And I asked to be baptized on that confession of faith and became a member of the household of the family of God.

I can awaken at two o’clock any morning.  I can turn to John 1:12 and the verse never changes.  In manhood it is still there.  In old age, it’ll still be there.  And in the hour of my death, it will not change.  And when I stand at the judgment bar of Almighty God, that shall be my plea and my assurance, the word and the promise of Christ, just trusting Jesus, just trusting Him.  So I go on not knowing.

 

I would know if I might. 

I had rather walk with Christ by faith

Than to walk by myself with sight. 

I had rather walk with Him in the dark

Than to walk alone in the light. 

["I Know Not What Awaits Me," Mary G. Brainard]

 

It is by faith [Ephesians 2:8, 9].  We’re saved by trusting Jesus and Him alone.  And someday, in the great assize, when we stand in the presence of His glory in heaven, we shall not sing, "All praise to me and what I did in order that I’m here, in order that I’m saved.  Look what I did."  No!  Every ritual, every ceremony, even every commandment obeyed, falls into the background and is forgotten when we stand in the presence of the great Glory and sing.  It shall be the song of the redeemed: "Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood . . . unto Him be glory, and praise, and honor, and majesty, and dominion forever and ever" [Revelation 1:5-6].

 

He paid it all.  All to him I owe. 

Sin had left a crimson stain. 

He washed it, He did it, white as snow. 

["Jesus Paid It All," Elvina M. Hall]

 

This is the message of Galatians.  This is the gospel of Christ, and it is this and this alone that can save us for God in heaven.  Trusting, loving, believing, receiving.  "Here I am Lord, take me such as I am.  Remember me."

And that does it.  "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom" [Luke 23:42].  No time to be baptized.  No time to keep commandments.  No time for reformation.  No time for anything except just remember me.  And the Lord replied, "Semeron, this day, today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise" [Luke 23:43].

 

Saved by the blood of the crucified One.

All praise to the Father, all praise to the Son.

All praise to the Spirit, the great Three in One,

Saved by the blood of the crucified One.

["Saved By The Blood," Daniel Towner]

 

 

That’s the way we’re saved: trusting Jesus and Him alone [Acts 16:30-31].  Our time is spent. 

In a moment we shall stand to sing our hymn of appeal.  And while we sing it, you, in the balcony round, you, on this lower floor, you, down one of these stairways, you, into the aisle, you, accepting the Lord as your Savior, would you come?  Would you answer with your life?  Maybe a couple you, maybe a family you, "Pastor, my wife, my children, all of us are coming."  Or just you, "I’ve given my heart to Christ, and here I am.  Here I come."  Do it now, make it now.  Or to put your life in the fellowship of this dear church, or to answer God’s call, however the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, make it now.  Come now, do it now.  Make the decision now.  And in a moment when you stand to sing, stand walking down that stairway or into that aisle and down to the front, "Here I am, pastor.  Here I come," while we stand and while we sing.

THE CHRISTIAN MANIFESTO

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Galatians 1:1-24

6-18-72

 

I.          Introduction

A.  Written to the Gauls in Asia Minor

B.  The severity of the epistle(Galatians 1:6-9, 3:1-3, 4:8-11)

C.  The trouble

      1.  In danger of apostatizing – heresy that faith in Christ not enough

      2.  Violently opposed Paul as an apostle of the Lord

D.  The answer is this burning letter to churches of Galatia

 

II.         Paul’s defense of his apostolic authority

A.  Received gospel directly from God; not from man or the twelve(Galatians 1:11-12, 18-19, 1 Corinthians 11:23)

B.  James, Peter, and John gave him the right hand of fellowship(Galatians 2:1, 9, Acts 15)

C.  His rebuke of Simon Peter(Galatians 2:11-12)

 

III.        Paul’s defense of the gospel

A.  Not by works, but by faith Abraham was justified(Galatians 3:6, Genesis 15)

B.  It is something God does for us – we cannot keep the law(Galatians 3:10-11)

C.  The law reveals our sin and takes us to Jesus (Galatians 3:24)

 

IV.       Paul’s appeal

A.  They turned aside from the gospel, seeking a way to save themselves(Galatians 5:4, 6:14)

 

V.        The gospel for all times

A.  Manifesto of the faith, and has been used as such through the centuries

B.  Every generationprone to the same Galatian heresy

C.  The gospel is the simple proclamation – "Look and live"(John 3:14, Revelation 7:14, Acts 16:30)

      1.  Personal, not ceremonial and ritualistic

      2.  Inward, not outward

      3.  Spiritual, not material(2 Corinthians 4:18, John 1:12, Revelation 1:6)