Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-15-72 8:15 a.m.
On the radio we welcome you to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Paidagogos. In the third chapter of the Book of Galatians, through which letter of Paul to the churches in Galatia we are preaching, our text is Galatians 3:24. And this is the context, beginning 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.
Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid, no: 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.
For before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards 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.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
What is that paidagōgos? “Wherefore the law was our paidagōgos to bring us unto Christ” [Galatians 3:24]. Truly, it is one of the most effective metaphors that could be found in human practice or experience. The Greek word for “child” is pais, and the genitive form is paidos. The Greek word for “to lead” is agō, and “a leader” is agōgos. When you put the two together, paidagōgos, put it together and the word comes out paidagōgos: child-leader.
That is exactly and precisely descriptive of the office of that one who in a rich, affluent, noble, Greek or Roman family took charge of the little boy in the home, directed his life, took care of him, was always with him, and in this instance led the little boy to school. The difference in the Greek language is very distinct, and always that, between the paidagōgos and the didaskalos; between the “child-leader” and the “teacher.” And the paidagōgos—the tutor, the child-leader, the slave in the home who had charge of the boy—would take the little fellow and lead him to school, and there turn him over to the didaskalos, the teacher. Paul, using that symbolism, says that “the law is our paidagōgos, the child-leader who takes us to the didaskalos”—our Master Teacher, Christ—“that we might be justified by faith” [Galatians 3:24].
The law therefore is to take us to Jesus. It’s to lead us to Christ. It was never the purpose of the law to save us, for by the law no man can be saved, no man can be justified [Galatians 3:11]. But the law was to take us to the Master Teacher Jesus, that He might save us, and that we might be justified by faith [Galatians 3:24]. And when the law has done that, its office is terminated [Galatians 3:25]. There is no more need for it. There’s no law in heaven. It is not needed [Galatians 3:11].
All of us, John says, in glory will be like Christ. We shall see Him as He is, and we shall be like Him [1 John 3:2]. There is no law in heaven. Its office is terminated when it leads us to Jesus [Galatians 3:23-26]. Now, that is true of the ceremonial law, and it is true of the moral law, both of them.
I speak first of the ceremonial law. It was never, ever the purpose of the ceremonial law, all of those types, and rituals, and symbols back there in the ancient worship of the Old Testament, it was never thought, nor was it the intent of God that those types, and symbols, and rituals, and ceremonies should save us, never! They are types and symbols that point out the road, but they’re not the road itself. They are maps, but they’re not the country itself. They show us the way, but they’re not the way itself. They are pictures, but they’re not the thing itself. They are portraits of the great King, but they’re not the King itself. They are pictures of the feasts, but they’re not the banquet itself. They are the shadow and types of things that are to come, but they are not the substance itself.
All of the rites and rituals of the Old Testament are pictures that point to something else. The blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer, as the author to the letter of the Hebrews pointed out [Numbers 19:1-10; Hebrews 9:13], could never save us, never. He said to show that they could not save us; they had to be repeated again and again and again, because they were ineffective for our salvation [Hebrews 10:1-4].
Christ was crucified once for all. And the effectiveness of the atonement of Christ can be seen in the fact that He died one time. And that one atoning death was all sufficient and all adequate [Hebrews 10:5-14]. But the types, and symbols, and rituals, and ceremonies of the old covenant worship were never thought for or intended in the mind of God to save us. They are ineffective, for the blood of bulls and goats could never wash away our sins [Hebrews 10:4]. All of those things in the old covenant were pictures that lead us to the great atoning truth in Christ [Galatians 3:24].
That would be true of the night of the Passover [Exodus 12:1-23]. It is a picture of universal death. All are under death, the death angel will pass over that night; and all who are in the land, all of them are under the sentence of death [Exodus 11:5-6]. But God in His mercy, in His promise, not by keeping a law, but God in His mercy, in promise, said, “If you will take the blood of a lamb, and sprinkle it on the lintel above, and on the doorposts on either side, in the form of a cross, all who are under the blood God will spare” [Exodus 12:5-7, 13, 22-23]. The blood of the lamb was not able to save from death. It was a type and a picture of the great, atoning grace, all-sufficient, in Christ [Ephesians 2:5, 8]. It’s a paidagōgos that leads us to Jesus [Galatians 3:24].
In the form of the tabernacle, and later in the temple, there is a great heavy veil that bars our access to the presence of the sanctuary of God [Exodus 26:31-33; Hebrews 9:3]. By blood, with the sprinkling of blood, the high priest, our mediator, representing us, the high priest could enter once a year by blood, through blood, in the sprinkling of blood; and there stand in the presence of the shekinah glory of God, and live [Hebrews 9:7]. The blood of the bullock that he carried into the sanctuary, into the Holy of Holies, was not sufficient to save him, but it was a type, an adumbration. It was a picture. It was a symbol of the blood of Christ that suffices to wash the stain of sin out of our souls [Hebrews 10:19-20]. It is a paidagōgos that leads us to see Jesus [Galatians 3:24]. To repeat, the ceremonial law was never devised to wash our sins away; but it is a picture of Christ, and it is a paidagōgos that leads us to Jesus [Galatians 3:24].
Now that same thing is true, and remarkably so, in the moral law. It was never the thought of God to save us by the moral law. Now the moral law is a picture of perfection. It is a photograph of holiness. Those Ten Words, those Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17] that were incised in stone by the very finger of God [Exodus 31:18] are mirrors of ethical achievement, personally, parentally, nationally, individually, socially, culturally.
In Western civilization there is no government in its statutes and in its laws but is based upon the Ten Commandments. We have there a perfect reflection of the holiness of God. We cannot add to it, nor are we able to take away from it. It is like God Himself! It reflects the holiness, and purity, and excellence, the godliness of the great Jehovah Himself [Exodus 20:1-17]. But the purpose of the giving of the moral law was never to save us.
The moral law says, “This do, and thou shalt live” [Deuteronomy 4:1]. But how do I do it? How can I keep it? This is why here in the Book of Galatians, in this same third chapter, the apostle Paul wrote, saying,
The works of the law would be to bring us to perfection; but if we do not keep that law, then we are cursed. For it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
[Galatians 3:10; Deuteronomy 27:26]
Then in Deuteronomy 27 [Deuteronomy 27:13-26], and in Deuteronomy 28 [Deuteronomy 28:15-68], are written those curses that come upon us when we don’t keep the law. I might keep nine of them, but fail in the tenth. I might keep nine hundred and ninety-nine of them and fail in the one thousandth. It’s like a chain. I might be perfect in this and this and this and this, but if I break the law in that, then the whole falls to the ground. I am in despair, for I am cursed not being able to continue perfectly in the law.
As Paul lamented in the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, “For the law, by the commandment, slew me, killed me [Romans 7:11]; for what I would do, that I do not do; and what I do not do, that I would do. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” [Romans 7:19, 24]. That is the paidagōgos; the moral law is the paidagōgos to lead us to Jesus [Galatians 3:24]. The law leads us to despair, not of God, not of Christ, but the law leads us to despair of ourselves [2 Corinthians 3:6].
In the law, there is never a breath of repentance or extenuation or of forgiveness. The law applies to all equally alike, and it is stern, and it is nothing but just. “The soul that sins shall die” [Ezekiel 18:4, 20], “the wages of sin is death” [Romans 6:23], and there is nothing left to me in the law but to face inevitable judgment and condemnation. But I am not to be led to despair in the moral law of God. It is the paidagōgos that leads me to Jesus, that brings me to the Lord [Galatians 3:24].
Do you remember how Pilgrim’s Progress begins? May I remind you? All of you have read it, some of you many times. Just by way of remembrance:
While as I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted upon a place where was a den, and I laid me down to sleep. And as I slept, I dreamed a dream, and behold a man, standing with his back to his own house. He held a Book in his hands, and he was dressed in rags. 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?’ And I saw that the man looked this way, and that way, as though he would run but not knowing where to go, he stood still. Then it was that evangelist came to him and said, ‘Why do you cry? Why do you lament and weep?’ And the man replies, ‘Sir, I read in this Book that I am condemned to die, and after that the judgment. But I’m not prepared to do the first, and I’m not ready to do the second.’ And Evangelist says, ‘Then why do you not flee from the wrath to come?’ And the man replies, ‘Sir, I know not where to go!’ And then Evangelist points out a light and a little wicket gate, and beyond that the cross, and tells the pilgrim, ‘You go toward that light, and through that little wicket gate, and there, kneeling at the cross, you’ll find the burden roll away, and you’ll find the way of salvation.’
The law is the paidagōgos to bring us to the despair of ourselves, that we might be brought to Christ [Galatians 3:24]. The law empties us that we might be filled with all the fullness of God [Ephesians 3:19]. The law strips us and makes us bare and naked, that we might be clothed with the righteous garments of God [Revelation 22:14]. The law kills us [Romans 7:11]. It slays us that we might be resurrected to the new life in Jesus [Galatians 2:19-20]. The law is the paidagōgos that delivers us in repentance, in mercy, in faith to Jesus Christ, that we might be the children of God by faith in Him [Galatians 3:24-26].
Now just for a few minutes I want to comment on that. What I have just said is what Paul is preaching. May I comment on it?
One: what a vast difference, what an illimitable, immeasurable difference between God’s way of saving the sinner and the world’s way, and all other ways in religions. Without exception, without exception, all of the religions of the world, all of them, without exception, all of the judgments of the world are this: “You do good and you’ll be saved. You observe these commandments and these rituals and you’ll be saved. Works, self-righteousness will deliver us.” Without exception, that is the attitude of the world and is the preachment of all other faiths and all other religions. I see it in the world everywhere.
Men try to commend themselves by—and let them talk to you. “He’s generous, or he gives to charity, or he tries to obey the law, or he’s upright and a man of integrity and character,” or whatever it is. Let him talk to you if he’s a man of the world, and you will find that he will commend himself. He’s saving himself by his own goodness. After all, he’s not very bad. He’s not very vile. He’s not very evil. He commends himself to you, and he hopes therein to be saved by his own righteousness.
But the gospel says, “If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law” [Galatians 3:21]. If a man can save himself by his own goodness, then it was a cruel and unforgivable act of God to let Jesus die [Matthew 27:32-50]. Rather, God’s way of salvation is this: it is not what you can do, not what we can do, but it is what has already been done, and I take it as a gift. It is not a drop of Jesus’ blood and a drop of my tears, it is not somewhat of the merit of Christ and somewhat of my own merit, but the way of salvation in the Bible is always this: it is all of grace, it is a gift of God [Ephesians 2:8-9], and it is no longer a gift if I do something to work for it; if somehow I merit it. If it is a gift, it has to be completely given from the hands gracious of God, and I receive it as such! And the heart of gratitude, and praise, and glory I feel in my soul is one of returning love for what God has done for me [1 John 4:19]. Always it is what He has done and what I accept.
And the purpose of the law is to show me the exceeding sinfulness of sin [Romans 7:13], for I have a tendency and the whole world has a tendency to look upon sin as a peccadillo, as being light, as being slight, as being, oh, something and nothing. And I need to realize the blackness and the heinousness of sin. And that is the purpose of the law: to point out to me the darkness and the depravity that is in my soul; all of us! [Romans 7:13].
Last Friday night, there was a class of our Sunday school that met, and they had their teacher and me to sit there, and they asked us questions—for several hours they did it—and one of the questions was this: the God of the Old Testament seems to be cruel, cruel in the extreme. He commanded Achan to be stoned to death, him and his family, when after the destruction of Jericho he took a wedge of gold, and silver, and a Babylonish garment, and hid it out of sight, and kept it, when God said all of it is to be devoted, all of it is to be destroyed. And because he did that, God had him and his family slain [Joshua 7:20-25]. Or when those children made fun of Elisha, bears came out of the forest and slew forty-two of them [2 Kings 2:23-24]. It seems to be cruel. How is it that God could be that way?
And the answer is this, the answer is this: in the Bible these things are written for our admonition [1 Corinthians 10:11]. They are written for our examples that we might see, and those things were done in the Old Testament, written down here in the Bible, that we might understand the heinousness of sin; as Paul says in the Book of Romans [Romans 7:13], that sin might be exceedingly sinful—because we have a tendency to look upon sin as being somewhat nothing; it is not really serious.
In answering I used the illustration of Ananias and Sapphira [Acts 5:1-11]. You know, we think, “Wouldn’t it be great to belong to that church that was filled with the Spirit of God?” Yet because Ananias lied he fell down dead, and because Sapphira lied she fell down dead. I said, “Wouldn’t that be something if our church services, all of the liars that were present, they all fell down dead? Wouldn’t that be something for us today?” I’d lose half of my congregation every Sunday, and the other half the next Sunday. I’m glad I don’t belong to that church back there, I really am. Well, why is it there in the first place? That we might see the attitude of God toward sin [Romans 7:13], and it’s the mercy of God that I don’t fall down dead, and it’s the mercy of God that you don’t fall down dead. And it’s the mercies of God that we are saved, that we are in the love and heart of God, that we are forgiven [Titus 3:5]. And this law, this moral law is the paidagōgos to bring us to Jesus [Galatians 3:24-26].
Lord, Lord, I’m beginning to see how sinful I am. Until the law came, I didn’t realize it. Until the Spirit of God convicted me [John 16:8-9; Romans 3:20], I didn’t know I was lost. But now that the law has come, and the Spirit of conviction has entered my soul, O God, now I’m beginning to see that I’m not worthy to stand in Your presence. I’m a lost sinner. And dear Jesus, have mercy upon me [Titus 3:5].
And that’s when Jesus becomes to us a Savior. If there’s nothing to save me from, He could never be a Savior. But when I see that I’m lost, that I’m condemned, as Pilgrim read in the Book, and cried with a great and lamentable cry, “I am appointed unto death, and after death the judgment. I’m not ready for the first, I’m not prepared for the second. What shall I do? Where shall I turn? How shall I be saved?” and Evangelist points him to Jesus. The law is thus the paidagōgos that leads us to our Lord, that we might be the children, that we might be saved by faith in Him [Galatians 3:24-26].
We must stand now and sing our appeal, and while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, or just one somebody you, in faith to receive the atoning grace of Christ [Ephesians 2:8], to put your life in the circumference and circle and fellowship of our dear church, as the Holy Spirit shall press the appeal, make it now. Come now. Respond now. Make the decision now in your heart, and in a moment when we stand up to sing, on that first stanza, come. God bless you, angels attend you in the way as you answer with your life, while we stand and while we sing.