|Galatians 4 |
1 Now I am saying is that as long as an heir is a child, he does not differ from a servant, though he owns it all;
2 But is under tutors and guardians until the time appointed by his father.
3 Even so, when we were children, we were in slavery under the elementary rules and traditions of the world's culture.
4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
5 To redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive the adoption as sons.
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, "Abba, Father."1
7 Therefore you are no longer a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
8 However, when you did not know God, you served those who by nature are not gods.
9 But now that you have known God, or rather are known by God, how can you turn again to the rules and traditions of the world's culture. Do you wish to be in bondage again?
10 You observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored among you in vain.2
12 Brethren, I beg of you, be as I am; for I became as you are. You have not done me any wrong.
13 You know how through a physical ailment I preached the gospel to you the first time.
14 And despite the trial that was in my flesh, you did not despise or reject me; but rather, received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
15 Where is the blessedness you enjoyed? For I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and given them to me.
16 Therefore, have I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?
17 They [the Jewish Christians] zealously pursue you, but not for good; they would like to separate you from us, so that you might be zealous for them.
18 It is always good to be zealously pursued if it is for a good purpose, and not only by me when I am present with you.
19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ is formed in you,3 [Each word we hear Him speak to us imparts the life of God, who is Christ, to our hearts; each word is engrafted into our hearts forming Christ in us.]
20 I wish that I were present with you now, and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear what the law says?
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave, the other by a free woman.
23 He who was of the slave woman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was born by the promise.
24 These things are an allegory. For these are the two covenants; one from the mount Sinai, which results in bondage, which is Hagar.
25 For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to earthly Jerusalem, which now exists and is in bondage with her children.
26 But Jerusalem, which is above is free and is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written, "Rejoice, you barren who do not bear [children]. Break forth and cry, you who do not labor in childbirth. For the barren has many more [spiritual] children than she who has a husband."
28 Now we, brothers, are the children of the promise, as Isaac was.
29 But as it was then, he who was born after the flesh persecuted him who was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.4
30 Nevertheless what did the scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son; for the son of the slave woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman."
31 So then, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free.
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1 Just for a moment, follow my logic: Assume you have created a small animate toy. You step back and look with pleasure on your creation. You have affection for it. Now, assume you can give this animate toy the certain knowledge that it has been created, and it can see you, recognizing you as his creator. Now assume that you have created an object that when recognizing you can say: Father, Father! Thank you for creating me. What a wonderful thing you have done for me. Now, imagine the love that can exist between your created being and yourself; and imagine that you now have an infinite number of more wonderful things to show it and share, including the joy of it seeing and understanding them all. Now, perhaps you have a glimpse of what the verse means: God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, "Abba, Father."
2 But now that you have known God, or rather are known by God, how can you turn again to the rules and traditions of the world's culture. Do you wish to be in bondage again? You observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored among you in vain. Now here you may see, observing of the Jewish days, months, times, and years, is condemned by Paul. In addition therefore, any religious group that observes any day differently than all days is following the traditions of the world, and that is a bondage to the world.
But now that you have known God, or rather are known by God, how can you turn again to the rules and traditions of the world's culture. Do you wish to be in bondage again? Gal 4:9
Even so, when we were children, we were in slavery under the elementary rules and traditions of the world's culture. Gal 4:3
Regarding observing special days, Paul was tolerant, allowing one man to esteem one day above another, and another to esteem every day alike, and similarly about foods, and not to judge one another; "But let him, he said, be fully persuaded in his own mind.” Yet to those Galatians, among whom he had labored intensely, he condemns the observation of days, months, times, and years; and he condemned Gentiles becoming circumcised in hopes of attaining righteousness. While observation of a day is a matter of individual conscience, (in which one should be fully persuaded), for a group of believers to observe a special day is definitely wrong, and a form of religion, which is condemned by Paul: But now that you have known God, or rather are known by God, how can you turn again to the rules and traditions of the world's culture. Do you wish to be in bondage again? You observe days, and months, and times and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored among you in vain. Gal 4:9-11. And if your church leader says you should observe certain days, or certain foods, you are listening to a false prophet; as Paul says: "Therefore do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days." Col 2:16. So an individual can choose to celebrate certain days; but the church, as policy or rule, cannot; for that is a form of law. If necessary, the Lord will tell that individual continuing to observe certain days, which ones to stop; thus maintaining freedom of individual conscience.
Because the early Quakers were arrested, assaulted, fined, and had their goods seized for keeping their shops open on "Holy Days," (called holidays now), George Fox wrote extensively how the observation of days was against true Christianity and scripture. The following is extracted from one of his many writings on this subject:
We have greatly suffered both imprisonments, and the spoiling of our goods, because we could not observe your holy-days, as you call them, and for opening of our shops we have been much assaulted by the rude multitudes, and sometimes our goods have been spoiled, and we are cast into prison; especially, because we could not observe [close our shops] that you call Christmas day. Now was not Christmas day set up by the Papists, and also your Candlemas, and Michaelmas, and Childermas, and Lammas, were not all these masses set up by the Papists, and not by Christ and his apostles? and are they not their relics of Popery? And did the apostles command that the christians should observe Easter, the Jews' passover, or Whitsuntide, the Jews' Pentecost, in the gospel day, in the new covenant and testament?
And again, did Christ and the apostles command the christians to observe circumcision, and the epiphany, and the purification of Mary, St. Matthew's day, Ash Wednesday, the Annunciation, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Mark the evangelist's day, Philip and Jacob's day, and Holy Thursday, St. Barnabas, Trinity Sunday, John Baptist's day, Peter and James's day, Bartholomew's day, Simon and Jude's day, All Saints' day, Andrew's day, Thomas's day, Stephen's day, John the evangelist's day, and Innocents' day, and Paul's day of his conversion, and that they should observe all these days in their several months and years; where did ever Christ and his apostles give the church command to observe these days, times, months and years? for the apostle Paul said, ‘I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.’ Acts 20:27.
Now, where did the apostle in all the counsel of God declare to the church of Christ, that they should observe these days before mentioned, in their times, months, and years? No, was not the apostle Paul so far from telling the church of Christ to observe Christ's day, or any of the apostles', or his own, that he said, ‘O you foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth,’ ... And also he said. ‘Are you so foolish having begun in the spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh? But now after that you have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements, or rudiments, whereunto you desire again to be brought into slavery? You observe days and months, and times and years;’ the apostle said, ‘I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.’ Gal 3:1-3, 4:9-11.
But all you Protestants, consider, is not God, and Christ, and his truth and name more dishonored and blasphemed upon your holy-days [today called holidays], as you call them, than any other day in the week, when all are let loose to sports and plays, and all manner of vain pastimes, as they call it, and drunkenness, looseness, lightness, wantonness, oaths and profaneness, out of the very bounds of sobriety, modesty, and christian moderation, which should be showed forth by all the true christians? And those who turned again to the weak elements and rudiments, to which they were brought into slavery, in their observing days, months, times, and years; this was not a christian gospel practice in the new covenant; but a gospel and christian testimony and judgment, against those who did do so. And the apostle said, ‘Stand fast therefore in your liberty in which Christ has made you free, and do not become entangled again with the yoke of slavery,’ as some of the Galatians were; even going back into the Jewish circumcision, besides their observing of days, times, months, and years; and so it could not have been the spirit of God that led into such things. For the apostle calls them fools, and said, ‘Who has bewitched you, that you have begun in the spirit, and think to be made perfect in the flesh.’ And therefore I desire you in the spirit of meekness, that you may reform, and be reformed out of these weak elements and rudiments, which brought people into slavery in the apostles' days; and therefore they must also bring people into slavery now; for which you have no command from Christ, nor his apostles, but their testimony against them. Therefore I desire you may be reformed by the spirit of God into the primitive reformation, the apostles' testimony, practice, and judgment, and to stand fast in the liberty, where Christ makes free out of slavery, and not to force others to that which brings into slavery.
And did ever the Jews observe Abraham's day, or Isaac's, or Jacob's, or Moses', or Aaron's, or Joshua's, or any of the prophets of God's days? Though Abraham saw the day of Christ, and rejoiced, yet he did not say it was an outward day that he saw and observed, nor call it Christmas day, which you have from the pope, and not from Abraham, Christ, nor his apostles. As dark and as blind as the Jews were, yet we do not hear that they observed any of the days before mentioned, in the old testament. But Herod who observed his birthday, and made a feast to his lords and high captains, etc. and when the daughter of Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod, that he said, he would give her whatsoever she would ask, and her mother counseled her to ask John Baptist's head, which was given her in a charger; and here are their fruits of their dancings, and their bloody feast, to slay the just, though we do not hear that Herod, nor any, either in the old or new testament, had any command either from God or Christ so to do. Neither have the christians from Christ or his apostles to observe their days, birthdays, or others: for the apostle said to the Galatians that were turned again to the weak elements and rudiments, whereunto they had been brought into slavery, who observed days, and months, and times, and years, they did not obey the truth in that, before whose eyes Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth, and crucified among them. And do not they crucify Christ among them now, that observe days, months, times, and years? And do not they persecute and spoil the goods of those who obey the truth, and imprison those who cannot observe their days, times, months, and years? Look over all Christendom, I pray, both Protestants and Papists, and see if that birth born of the flesh, has not been persecuting that birth born of the spirit. Gal 4:29.
And where did ever Christ or the apostles command Lent to be kept, and Shrove-Tuesday, and many more holy-days, as you call them, that might be mentioned? And is not there a great deal of rudeness and wickedness committed on that day you call Shrove-Tuesday, throughout the land? And is it not time for you to reform from these heathenish and Popish customs, by the spirit of sobriety and modesty, and that your moderation may appear, that you are christians in nature and deed. I pray, be not offended with such true christians, as cannot in conscience observe such things. And have you not received the names that you give to most of your days and months, from the heathen and Papists, and not from the prophets, Christ, or his apostles? And were not the old pagan Saxons in their idolatry, the first that brought in the names of the days after this manner, and these called christians have retained them to this day.
In addition to the so-called religious holidays, (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc), the same applies to "cultural holidays" such as those observed in the USA: Labor Day, Independence Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, New Year's Day, Halloween, Columbus Day, President's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, Valentine's Day, Cinco de Mayo, etc.
If you are not yet convinced that the Lord disapproves celebration of special days, assuming you are waiting on him persistently, expect Him to eventually give you explicit commands regarding the cessation of days you continue to observe.
3 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ is formed in you. From the Word of the Lord within: "The words I speak to you impart life; the Spirit gives life with every word heard." The words he speaks to us are life and engrafted into our hearts. John 6:63,James 1:21. Christ is the life; therefore each word He speaks to us increases Christ in us. Christ is formed in us by the words we hear him speak to us, until finally he is fully formed and resurrected in us to be our true Lord, ruling our thoughts, words, and deeds. In his Catechism Isaac Penington wrote of this forming of Christ within:
...there is no way of being saved by him, but through receiving him into the heart by a living faith, and having him formed in the heart. Christ saves not as he stands without at the door knocking, but as he is let in; and being let in, he brings in with him that life, power, and mercy, which breaks down the wall of partition, unites to God, and saves. The Jews could not be saved formerly by the belief of a Messiah to come, with the observation of all the laws and ordinances of Moses; nor can anyone now be saved by the belief of a Christ who has historically come, with observation of all that the apostles commanded or practiced; but only by the receiving him into your heart, where he works out the salvation.
...there is no way of receiving Christ into the heart, and of having him formed there, but by receiving the light of his spirit, in which light he is and dwells. [If you] Keep out the light of his spirit, [then you] keep out Christ; [if you] let in the light of his spirit, [then you] let in Christ; for the Father and the Son are light, and are alone known and received in the light; but never out of it.
...the way of receiving the light of the Spirit into the heart, (and thereby uniting with the Father, and the Son), is by listening to, and receiving its convictions of sin there. The first operation of the Spirit towards man lying in the sin, is to convince him of the sin; and he that does not receive the convincing light of the Spirit, the work is stopped in him at the very beginning; and Christ can never come to be formed in him, because that light by which he should be formed is kept out. And then he may talk of Christ, and practice duties, (pray, read, and contemplate much), and gather comforts from promises, and run into ordinances, and be exceeding zealous and affectionate in all these, and yet perish in the end. Yes, the devil will let him alone, (if not help him), in all this, knowing that he has him the surer by this, he being, (by the strict observation of these), kept out of the fear of the danger of his condition, which otherwise perhaps he might be made sensible of.
4 as it was then, he who was born after the flesh persecuted him who was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. As Cain killed Abel because his sacrifice was not accepted, so did the Jews kill Jesus because he said their sacrifice was not enough; so did the Jews kill Stephen; so did the Romans slaughter the early church in the ten persecutions; so did the Protestants of England and America kill the early Quakers. The religious people still in the flesh, when told their sacrifice is not accepted by God, rise up to persecute the messengers — messengers sent by God. Why does God allow this? Because through this suffering of his people, he brings many to perfection — suffering is required to be finished with sin and to reach perfection. When the Spirit of Christ, in power and fullness, appears again, that Spirit will reprove those in the false religions. Then the false religions will be in rage that someone would dare challenge their "faith," and so those born after the flesh will persecute him born after the Spirit; as it was, as it will be. The word of God within my heart has spoken to me, saying: "this time we will have to deal with rights." Modern man has created a morality based on legislated rights. Exactly what rights the Lord will instruct his people to oppose, he has not yet revealed; but when he does, persecution will not only be inflicted by the "religious people" around the world, but also the secular humanists, focusing on rights.
One reason God allows Babylon to exist is to serve the perfection of his saints through their persecutions.
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