Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-15-72 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Paidagogos. We are preaching through the Book of Galatians, and the text is Galatians 3:24, and the context will begin at verse 19.
Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
Is the law against the promises of God? [Galatians 3:21]. He had just said that four hundred thirty years before the law, Abraham and the seed of Abraham were saved by faith, by promise, by trusting the goodness and mercy of God [Galatians 3:16-18]. Four hundred thirty years after that protevangelium. God gave the law [Galatians 3:17]. Well, why did He give it? In order to show what transgression really is; “that sin might become exceeding sinful” [Romans 7:13]. Then he asks:
Is the law then against the promises of God? No, God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterward be revealed.
Wherefore the law was our paidagōgos to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a paidagōgos.
Not in human experience, not in human life could there have been chosen a more effective metaphor for an illustration of the gospel message than Paul used in choosing this word and symbol paidagōgos. The Greek word for child is pais, and the genitive form of it is paidos. The Greek word for lead is agō; the Greek word for a leader is agōgos. So when you put the two together, paidagōgos, a child leader; put the two together, and it is pronounced, it comes out paidagōgos, a child leader.
In the days of the Greco-Roman Empire, where slavery was so extensive, more than half of the population of the Roman Empire was chatteled property. Had you walked down the streets of, say, Ephesus, or Corinth, or Antioch when Paul lived, three of the five men you would have met on the street were slaves. They were owned by somebody else. In those days, the noble family, the rich and affluent family of a Greek or a Roman, placed his child in the care and keeping of a paidagōgos.
And the assignment and the responsibility of that slave was to watch over and to care for the youngster. One of his assignments was to take the child and to deliver him to the didaskalos, the teacher. So Paul used that imagery of a paidagōgos taking the child by the hand and leading him in safety, though in stern severity and discipline, to the didaskalos, the teacher.
Using that imagery he says,
Wherefore the law is our paidagōgos, the child tutor and leader, to deliver us to the Master Teacher, Christ; that we might be justified, that we might be saved in His grace and mercy.
For after that faith is come, after we have been delivered to the Teacher, there is no longer any need, and we are no longer under that paidagōgos; we are now in the hands of the great Teacher.
We see from the passage and from the whole discussion in this letter to the churches of Galatia, that it was never the intent of the law to save us, never. But the purpose of the law was to reveal to us our need, our lack, our inability to commend ourselves in virtue or holiness to God that we might be brought to Christ; in order that we might be saved through His mercy, His promise; to be saved by grace, by trust [Galatians 3:19, 24-26].
The law never proposed to save us! It was not given for that purpose. The purpose of the law is to deliver us to Jesus, and after that office is filled and the purpose is achieved, there is no longer any need for the law [Galatians 3:24-26]. There is no law in heaven. There’s no need for it. It has served its purpose. It is done. All of us in glory shall be like our Lord. We shall see Him as He is, for we shall be like Him [1 John 3:2]; so wrote the apostle John.
In heaven, therefore, the office is terminated. The purpose is done. It has achieved the reason that it came into being, and it is done away. There’s no law in heaven. It is thus in our own lives. The purpose of the law is to bring us to Christ, and when it has achieved that purpose, it is done. It has accomplished the reason for which God gave it. And we are no longer under the law. We’re under grace, under the loving mercy and goodness and promises of God [Galatians 3:24-26]. Now we’re going to discuss that for a moment in two ways: first, the ceremonial law; and second, the moral law.
The ceremonial law, that is, the law of rites, and types, and rituals, and ceremonies, the offering on the altar, the spilling out of the blood, the genuflection, all of those things that go with the beautiful ritual of tabernacle and temple; it was never the purpose of God that the ceremonial law should save us. But the purpose of the ceremonial law was to lead us to Jesus, to show us our Lord, to point the way to Him [Galatians 3:24]. They are pictures, and symbols, and types, and adumbrations of Him who is to come, the Seed of Abraham [Luke 24:27]. But it was never the purpose of God that these rituals, and types, and symbols should ever be used to save us. The ceremonial law, all of those things that pertained to the worship of the tabernacle and the temple, the ceremonial law is an instrument of God that points the way. But it is not the way itself. It is a map; it is not the country itself. It is a picture; it is not the thing itself. It is a presentation. It is not the substance itself. It is a portrait of the King; it is not the King Himself. It is a picture of the banquet; it is not the feast itself. It is the shadow and type of the things to come; it is not the reality and the substance itself.
All the blood of all the sacrifices that were ever offered before God could never suffice to wash our sins away. It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of an heifer [Numbers 19:1-10; Hebrews 9:13], could be adequate or sufficient to wash the stain of sin out of our souls! [Hebrews 10:1-4]. As the author of the letter to the Hebrews points out, their ineffectiveness is demonstrated by the fact that they were repeated again and again and again. The sacrifices were offered over and over and over again, and the reason for their continual offering before God was they were not able to save us, to deliver us from our sins [Hebrews 10:1-4]. But the sacrifice of Christ, the atonement of Christ [Romans 5:11], the death of Christ was once and for all [Hebrews 10:5-14]. It is never repeated. Christ died once for our sins according to the Scripture, and that one atoning death is forever [1 Corinthians 15:3]. It is all-adequate and all-sufficient! But the blood of bulls and goats poured out at the base of the altar could never save us, nor was its intent to deliver us [Hebrews 10:4]. It was a type, a picture that points us to Jesus. It is a paidagōgos to take us to the Lord [Galatians 3:24].
Could I, just for a moment speak of two of those pictures in the Old Testament? One is the Passover [Exodus 12:1-23]. All of the people, all of them are under the judgment of sin and of death, and that night the death angel will visit the land, and in every house there shall be mourning and lamentation because of death, sin and death.
But the Lord said if a family would take a lamb, slay it, gather the blood in a basin, and sprinkle it on the front of the house in the form of a cross, the lintel at the top, and the doorposts on either side [Exodus 12:3,6-7], that when the angel of death visits the land that night, seeing the blood he would pass over that house [Exodus 12:22-23], and instead of death there should be life. There is no thought in the picture, in the type, that the blood of the lintel and the doorposts actually saves us, but it is a type, it is an adumbration, it is a paidagōgos that leads us to the Lord Himself! [Galatians 3:24]. This is a picture of that. This is what God did that He might teach us the meaning of the death of our Savior!
Another out of a multitude of those pictures is the way of the worship into the temple, or the tabernacle itself. The people were shut out of the presence of God, the shekinah glory of God, by a thick, heavy veil [Exodus 26:31-33; Hebrews 9:3]. And just once a year could the high priest, with blood of atonement, go beyond that veil, and there stand in the presence of the majesty of Jehovah, and live [Hebrews 9:7]. It is not that the sprinkling of the blood [Leviticus 16:14] saved the priest from the wrath and judgment of God, from the visitation of death, but it is a picture that shows us that in the death of Christ, in the blood of our Lord, we can stand in the presence of pure purity, of holy holiness, of sanctified sanctity, and live [Hebrews 10:19-20]. The whole ritual is a paidagōgos to lead us to the atoning death and grace of our blessed Lord [Galatians 3:24].
Now may I speak again of the moral law? It was never the purpose of the moral law to save us, to deliver us from our sins, though the moral law is like God Himself. It is perfect. It is a photograph of holiness. It is a picture of purity and perfection. It was written, it was incised into stone by the very finger of God Himself [Exodus 31:18], the Ten Words, the Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17]. Nobody can add to them, nobody can take away from them. They are complete and perfect, from the hand, and mind, and will, and purpose of God [Exodus 31:18].
Those Ten Commandments, for Western civilization, is the great foundational basis of all of our statutes and judgments. So if I am to be saved by the law, it is a very simple way and a very simple thing for me to do: keep that law and I shall be saved. The law says, “Do this and thou shalt live” [Deuteronomy 4:1]. Nothing could be plainer than that. God wrote out His laws.
Here are the commandments, His statutes and His judgments. “Keep those statutes, obey those commandments, and thou shalt live.” But there is in it—there is a concomitant, there is a corollary, there is an addendum, there is an accompaniment, and when I face it, I am thrown into abject and abysmal and terrible despair, for though I keep ninety-nine of those statutes, if I fail in one, I’m lost. It’s like a great chain. I don’t have to break every one of those links to be crushed into the abyss that yawns beneath me. If I just break one link, I fall.
So it is written in the law: “Cursed,” quoted Paul from the twenty-seventh chapter of Deuteronomy, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them” [Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10]. And you read those curses—they are horrible. They are written in the twenty-seventh chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy [Deuteronomy 27:13-26], and they are written in the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy [Deuteronomy 28:15-68], and you can read them for yourself.
And he quotes from that book of cursing, “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in everything in the law, to do them” [Galatians 3:10; Deuteronomy 27:26]. What shall I do? This was the lament and the cry of the apostle Paul in the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, “The law took occasion, by the commandment, and it slew me! It killed me! [Romans 7:11]. What I would do,” Paul wrote, “I do not do! And what I do not do, that I would do! [Romans 7:19] O, O, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” [Romans 7:24].
For in law there’s no repentance, there’s no extenuating circumstances, there’s no recognition of human fault and failure. The law is inexorable. It is impersonal. It is applied just in justice! “And the soul that sins shall die” [Ezekiel 18:4, 20], “And the wages of sin is death” [Romans 6:23], and the moment I sin, I fall into the judgment and condemnation of Almighty God; I am slain [Romans 7:11].
Do you remember how Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress begins? It begins just like that. It begins in despair, in lamentation, and great crying. Do you remember it? There’s nobody but has read Pilgrim’s Progress, and many of you many times over again. Not that you do not know it, just to bring it back to mind, this is the way it begins:
As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I came upon a certain place where was a den, and I laid me down to sleep. And while I slept, I dreamed a dream, and behold a man, standing with his back to his own house. He was dressed in rags. He was reading a Book; and there was a great burden on his back. And as he read the Book, being no longer able to contain, he break out with a great and lamentable cry, saying, ‘What shall I do?’ I saw that he looked this way, and that way, as though he would run; but not knowing where to go, he just stood still. Then while he cried and wept, Evangelist comes up to him and says, ‘Why do you cry?’ And the man replies, ‘I read in this Book that it is appointed unto me to die, and after that the judgment. I’m not ready to do the first, and I’m not prepared to do the second. What shall I do to be saved?’ And Evangelist replies, ‘Then you must flee from the wrath to come.’ And the man replies, ‘But I don’t know where to go! Wither shall I go, and where shall I flee?’
That is the paidagōgos to lead us to Jesus [Galatians 3:24].
Evangelist says to the man, ‘Do you see yonder light, and just beyond the light a little wicket gate, and just beyond the wicket gate a hill, and on the top of the hill a cross? There will you find the burden rolled away, and there will you find life and light and salvation.
This is the purpose of the law: to condemn us, to show us our sins, to reveal ourselves, our lostness; but not to lead us to despair, only to despair of self. The purpose of the law is a paidagōgos to lead us to Jesus that we might be saved by grace, by repentance, by promise, by His mercy [Galatians 3:24]. The law empties us, brings us out, pours us out, that we might be filled with the fullness of God [Ephesians 3:19]. The law strips us; it makes us bare and naked, that we might be clothed with the righteous garments of heaven [Revelation 22:14]. The law kills us, it slays us, it buries us, that we might be resurrected into the glorious life of Christ our Savior [Galatians 2:19-20]. The law is the paidagōgos to lead us, to bring us, to deliver us to Jesus that we might be saved by faith, by trust, by grace, by the goodness and forgiveness and promise of God [Galatians 3:24-26].
Now may I expatiate on that just for a moment? May I point out just some things about it briefly? The way of evangelical salvation is so different from the way of salvation of the world and all other religions. Without exception, all other religions, all of them, are filled with the hope of being saved, of being delivered by ourselves, by good works; all of them. Without exception, this is the attitude of the whole world, religious or non-religious, theistic or atheistic: “We’re saved by our good works.”
Talk to any man of any other religion, talk to any man anywhere in the world, and that’s what he will tell you. He will extol himself. He will speak well of himself: he’s not as vile as he could be—and I’m sure that’s true. When the town character who was as vile and wicked as old sin himself died, well, there wasn’t anybody to say anything good at his funeral, so when they buried the guy and covered him over, the fellow at the cemetery said, “Isn’t there anybody that’ll say anything good about this man?” and one fellow stood up who’d known him all his life, and said, “Yes, I can. He wasn’t as bad all the time as he was most of the time.” Now, we have that attitude about ourselves.
Most any man out there in the world will commend himself. Now, he’s not as bad as that guy, and he’s not as vile as that one, and he can remember when he could have done worse, and he did better. And so he’ll extol himself, and he’ll defend himself. And he hopes to be saved, if there is such a thing as salvation by his own merit and virtue and goodness. He’s going to be his own defender, and his own savior, and his own advocate, and his own mediator. He’s going to take his chances by himself. He doesn’t need Jesus, and he doesn’t need religion, and he looks upon us as people who need a crutch. “And I don’t need a crutch when I walk through this world and stand in the presence of God,” and they’ll use that language—very, very fine, very commendable, most so. That’s the way of the world.
Now it would be wonderful if we could be saved like that. Paul admits, “If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law” [Galatians 3:21]. In other words, It is a travesty, it is an unthinkable injustice, that if a man can be saved by keeping a law, that Christ should have been delivered to death, to agony, to the cross, to the suffering and dying of that awful day! [Matthew 27:32-50].
But what is the gospel? The gospel is this: that no man is good enough to stand in the presence of God, and that the closer he gets to the purity and the white light of the glory of God, the more it is evident that he is filled with sin. The very imaginations of his heart are evil altogether [Genesis 6:5]. And finally, in the presence of God he is blinded. No man can see the face of God, and live! [Exodus 33:20]. He’s a sinful man! And when he stands in the presence of God, or approaches God, the more of that feeling and conviction of lostness, of sin, of unworthiness will overwhelm him.
The sign of a man being a long way from God is his self-justification: “I will take my chances, I will stand on my own merit, I need no Savior!” The man who’s far away is like that, but the man who draws nigh increasingly finds himself on his face, on his knees, crying for help and mercy and forgiveness. And that is the gospel. The law revealing to us our sin is a paidagōgos to bring us to Jesus [Galatians 3:24]. For the gospel is you don’t have to do anything; it’s already done for you. All that is needed—the atonement, the suffering, the payment of sin [Isaiah 53:4-5]—all of it is done for you. He did it, He did it, and all I do is just to receive it [Ephesians 2:8-9]. I just take it.
There’s nothing of me for my salvation. It is not the blood of Christ and then maybe my tears. It is not the good works of my Lord and the merit of my Savior, and then some good works and merit of mine. No. It is all of Him. He paid it all, all of it. And what I do is I receive it. I take it. And the issue of my life is not one of compatriotism with Jesus—“We are peers; He did some and I did some”—no, what it is is that our Lord did it all, and I, I just live in gratitude and in praise. The issue of my life now is to thank Jesus. “O bless His name!” and so you just go around like that: “Isn’t He a wonderful Lord? O what a glorious day when He washed my sins away [Revelation 1:5]; O bless God! Isn’t it just marvelous what the Lord has done for me?”
That is the Christian life. Not one of working, and grasping, and striving, and hoping! “Lord, Lord, maybe I can be good enough if I climb this ladder. I can climb it, climb it, climb it, and maybe finally I’ll find the top leaning against heaven.” Oh, no! but the Christian life is “O blessed Jesus, whose arms reached down and lifted me up out of the miry pit, and set my feet on the rock, and put a song in my heart, and the glory of God in my soul, and I’m on the road to hallelujah, praise His name; glory, glory, glory,” that you might be the children of faith; the paidagōgos to lead us to Jesus [Galatians 3:24-26].
I have a moment longer. Let me expatiate just one other thing about this gospel. The purpose of the law, the apostle avows, is to reveal to us the exceeding sinfulness of sin [Romans 7:13], because we have a tendency to look upon sin as a peccadillo: it’s a little inconsequential, it’s an insignificance, it is a nothing. Don’t think anything about it, just pass it by, forget it. That’s our attitude toward sin, and the purpose of the law is to point out to us how black, and how dark, and how heinous sin is. For unless we sense the awesomeness of sin and the tragedy of our lostness, then the Savior has no meaning to us at all. He who could deliver us from a peccadillo is something, a nobody. But if sin is awesome, and if judgment is terrible, then He who could save us from it is God Himself [Romans 5:20]. Those two always go together.
Last Friday night, Friday night of last week, there was a Sunday school class that had a dinner, and they had their teacher and me for their program, asking us questions, and they did so for several hours. And one of the questions was this, and it was an astute one: the question was, “It seems to me,” said the questioner, “that the God of the Old Testament is cruel. He is cruel in the extreme. Because Achan, after Jericho fell, took a wedge of silver and a wedge of gold and a beautiful Babylonish garment and hid it away, the Lord had him and all of his family stoned [Joshua 7:20-25]. Oh, how cruel! And then when Elisha passed by and those children made fun of his bald head, why, bears came out of the woods at the command of Elisha and ate up forty-two of those children [2 Kings 2:23-24]; Oh, how cruel, how cruel!”
Now, that was the question: “Isn’t the God of the Old Testament cruel?” Well, the answer is this; the answer is exactly this: we have a tendency to extenuate. We have a tendency to excuse. We have a tendency to look upon sin as though it were a small thing. It is nothing. But God looks upon sin as being dark and damnable and heinous! [Romans 7:13]. Who would ever thought or dreamed that the sin of Adam and Eve [Genesis 3:1-6] would have plunged the whole universe into destruction [Romans 8:22-24], and all the generations since, and we of those generations have the penalty of death in us? [Romans 7:5, 23]. We do not realize the heinousness, the darkness, the judgment of God upon sin! [Romans 6:23]. And these things are written in the Bible for examples. Paul says so: “These are examples, that we might see the judgment of God upon wrong, upon our dereliction, upon our sin” [1 Corinthians 10:6-12].
I spoke of the fact that sometimes we think how wonderful it would be to have been a member of that first-century church, oh, filled with the Spirit of God, and the power of the Lord upon it. What a wonderful thing to be a member of that church. Then you turn over the page, and you read where Ananias came and told a lie in the church, and he dropped down dead! Then, after a bit, his wife Sapphira came in, and she told a lie, and she dropped down dead! [Acts 5:1-11].
And I said, “How would you like to belong to a church where all of the liars drop down dead?” Why, the first Sunday one half of my church would be dead, and the next Sunday the other half would be dead. Well, why are these things in the New Testament, and why are they in the Old Testament? For it’s just the same. These things are in the Bible, written there for our admonition [1 Corinthians 10:11]. They are examples. They show us how heinous and how dark is sin in our lives! As Paul says that famous word I’ve already quoted, “that sin might become exceeding sinful!” [Romans 7:13] The law took occasion by the commandment, and it slew me [Romans 7:11]. It reveals to me my real self, how dark is my life, and how far short of the glory of God” [Romans 3:23]. It’s the paidagogos, having revealed to me my lostness and my dereliction and my sin. It’s the paidagogos, and it leads me to Jesus [Galatians 3:24-26]. This is the way of promise and of mercy and of forgiveness [Titus 3:5].
And to those who look in faith and acceptance, in repentance, in love, in trust to Him, God pours out upon him the Spirit of adoption, and sonship, and forgiveness [Romans 8:14-16]. “Welcome, son, welcome,” says the Father to a prodigal boy. “Welcome, sweet lass, welcome darling girl,” says the Father to the sweet child who comes to Jesus in faith [Matthew 19:14]. Welcome, you. Welcome, us. That’s what it is to believe in the Lord; and that’s what it is to become a Christian.
“Lord, not in my worth, but in Thine; not in my loveliness, but in Thine; not in my merit, but in Thine; not in my goodness, but in Thine. Lord, here I am. Save me. Take me. Bless me. Forgive me. Lord, do it now, do it in the days of this pilgrimage, do it in the hour of my death; and someday, O blessed Jesus, when we stand before the bēma of Christ [2 Corinthians 5:10], stand by me, Lord, and see me through.”
That’s what it is to be a Christian. Would you do that? Accepting Jesus for all that He said He was, receiving from His gracious hands all that He has done for us; “And here I am, pastor, here I come.” Make the decision now in your heart, and in a moment when we stand up to sing our appeal, if you’re in the balcony round, if you’re on this lower floor, into that aisle, or down one of these stairways: “Here I am, pastor. I make it now. I choose Jesus now, and here I am.” Do it. Come, and angels attend you in the way as you answer with your life, while we stand and while we sing.
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Paidagogos – “a child leader”
1. A slave who was a guardian of a child of noble Greek, Roman families
2. One assignment was to take the child to the didaskalos, the teacher
B. Paul uses this imagery to describe the lawII. The purpose of the law – to bring us to Christ
A. When it has brought us to Jesus, its office is terminated
B. We are no longer under the law, but under grace
1. Ceremonial law was not intended to save us, but to lead us to Jesus
a. Sets forth the way, but not the way itself
i. Passover(Exodus 12:23)
ii. Worship in the tabernacle
2. Moral law was not to save us, but to take us to Jesus
a. Ten Commandments are complete and perfect
b. We cannot keep them all (Deuteronomy 27:26, Galatians 3:10, Romans 7:15, 24, Ezekiel 18:4, 20, Romans 6:13)
c. The law cuts us down, condemns us, reveal us
i. Pilgrim’s Progress
ii. It leads us to Jesus that we might be saved by graceIII. The plan of salvation
A. The world’s plan – do and be more
1. If man can be saved by keeping a law, Christ’s suffering unnecessary(Galatians 3:21)
B. God’s plan – not “do”, but a free gift
1. It is the blood of Christ and merit of the Savior alone
C. Observation on God’s plan
1. Sin exceedingly sinful(Romans 7:13)
a. Sunday school class asked, “Isn’t God of Old Testament cruel?”
b. Examples that we might see judgment of God upon wrong (1 Corinthians 10:6, Acts 5:1-11)
2. Those who look to God in faith, He pours out upon them the spirit of adoption