Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 40: The Judgment on False Teachers

Class #40:  If the baptized life of a Christian were a race, the Galatians were running it well.  They were justified by faith in Christ alone, and were continuing to hear and follow God’s Word.  But then false teachers persuaded the congregation to admit a little law into the article of justification.  This little leaven of false teaching quickly replaced the cross of Christ with outwards works.  This law created troubled consciences.

Having taught the Galatians the false teachings propagated by the Judaizers, St. Paul now asks the question, “Who hindered you from obeying the truth?”  All heads turn toward the false teachers.  Now, what will the Galatians do?  Having no other mind (than Christ’s), they are to remove the false teachers and their false teaching.

Overhead: Galatians Class 40 Overhead
Handout: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 5 2 thru 15

#67- We Owe Obedience to the Church Which Speaks the Word of God

“In saying this Christ gave the answer to the argument concerning the true church; for to this day you hear our papists boasting and saying: the church, the church! It is true that Christ wants to have his home where the Father and the Holy Spirit want to be and to dwell. The entire Trinity dwells in the true church; what the true church does and directs is done and directed by God. Now the new church is a different dwelling from that of Jerusalem; he tears down all the prophecies concerning Jerusalem, as if Jerusalem were nothing in his eyes, and he builds another dwelling, the Christian church. Here we agree with the papists that there is one Christian church; but Christ wants to be everywhere in the land. These are fine, heart-warming words—that God wants to come down to us, God wants to come to us and we do not need to clamber up to him, he wants to be with us to the end of the world: Here dwells the Holy Spirit, effecting and creating everything in the Christian church.

But what is the dissension about between the papists and us? The answer is: about the true Christian church. Should one then be obedient to the Christian church? Yes, certainly, all believers owe this obedience; for St. Peter commands in the fourth chapter of his first Epistle: ‘Whoever speaks’ should speak ‘as one who utters oracles of God’ [I Pet. 4:11]. If anybody wants to preach, let him suppress his own words arid let them prevail in worldly and domestic affairs; here in the church he should speak nothing but the Word of this rich Householder; otherwise it is not the true church” (Luther’s Works, v. 51, p. 304-305).

#63- The Church Does Not Alter or Pervert The Word of God

“Therefore let us look at this text aright, keep it pure, and hold it properly before our noses. Christ says: ‘The Comforter, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things.’ These words they ignore; they pervert them by saying: ‘The Holy Spirit comes in our name; whatever popes, cardinals, and bishops decide is done by the Holy Spirit.’ But ‘in Christ’s name’ means: wherever Christ is understood, known, and believed; wherever His Baptism and the office of the ministry are administered.

Furthermore, Christ says: ‘He will teach you and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you; that is, He will teach you that it is My Word and doctrine. He will apply Himself to this and recall it to your mind, that you may understand and judge that it is My Word, the very words which I spoke to you. He will emphasize it and make it clearer from day to day, so that you will know Me ever better and see how through Me you are delivered from sin and death.’

That is my answer to our papists, who come strutting along with this verse. They praise the glorious name of the Christian Church. They say that the church is taught by the Holy Spirit and that for this reason its dictates must be obeyed. That is true and correct. But it is important to discern who is and who is not the church. Christ says: ‘You can observe and judge this by the presence or the absence of My Word. The Holy Spirit shall come in My name and teach what I have said. But if its teachings are different from, and not in harmony with, My Word, then it is not the Christian Church. For how could the church alter or pervert the Word of its Lord?’”  (Luther’s Works, v. 24, p. 175-176).

#62- The Church Is Concerned With Cleansing Us From Sin

“On the other hand, if you hear people preaching about Christ and treating and expounding His Word, Baptism, His suffering, and His resurrection, then you can say: ‘Here I am listening to the true Christian Church. For here is the Holy Spirit, who teaches and brings to remembrance what Christ said, not human prattle about food, drink, and clothing. For how do such things concern the church?  Or why should they require the Holy Spirit? Every father can establish such rules in his house for his servants. What is there to prevent a heathen who has heard nothing about Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the church from instituting ordinances with reference to the consumption of fish or meat on such and such a day, the celebration of holidays, the observance of fasts, or the wearing of a red, brown, black, or gray garb? What knowledge or revelation from the Holy Spirit is necessary to prescribe that a cardinal must sit above a bishop, a bishop above a prince, etc.? Any heathen or non-Christian can do that. For God endowed man with reason with which to reign on earth; that is, it should be competent to establish laws and ordinances touching man’s physical life, his eating, drinking, and clothing, and to maintain external discipline and respectable conduct.

Such authority is not restricted to Christians, but it pertains most of all to the heathen and the Turks. For in our capacity as Christians we are not concerned with this, and the office of the Holy Spirit does not deal with it at all. He is interested in other matters, namely, to cleanse us from sin, to deliver us from death, to free us from the devil, to extinguish the fire of hell, and to make us holy, living, and eternal children of God. This is not accomplished with cowls, tonsures, and the eating of fish or meat; to attain this we must give ear to the words and message of Christ, who shed His blood and died for us”  (Luther’s Works, v. 24, p. 174-175).

#61- The Church Is Not Above God’s Word

“You, on the other hand, wickedly usurp this name and apply it to a coterie of knaves who do not ask at all what Christ said and commanded. They brashly determine and formulate whatever doctrines they themselves choose and then allege that this is the work of the Holy Spirit. Yes, they are so impudent as to elevate such a crowd of knaves above God’s Word and to say that the church is above the Gospel. Just as though there were a Christian Church without Christ and His Word! And since they occupy the highest place and decide questions without Christ’s Word—yes, contrary to it—the Holy Spirit must necessarily be with them, do and confirm all that they want from Him, call them to church, and command everybody to heed their voice as that of God Himself and to obey on pain of his soul’s salvation. You will have to wait a long time for this; He will not let it happen. For Christ describes the Holy Spirit as a Teacher who teaches and proclaims His Word.

On the other hand, if you hear people preaching about Christ and treating and expounding His Word, Baptism, His suffering, and His resurrection, then you can say: ‘Here I am listening to the true Christian Church. For here is the Holy Spirit, who teaches and brings to remembrance what Christ said, not human prattle about food, drink, and clothing. For how do such things concern the church?’” (Luther’s Works, v. 24, p. 174-175).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 39: In Great Weakness

Class #39: “…as soon as the Holy Spirit has initiated his work of regeneration and renewal in us through the Word and the holy sacraments, it is certain that we can and must cooperate by the power of the Holy Spirit, even though we still do so in great weakness….  There is therefore a great difference between baptized people and unbaptized people because, according to the teaching of St. Paul, “all who have been baptized have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27), are thus truly born again, and now have a liberated will — that is, as Christ says, they have again been made free. As a result, they not only hear the Word of God but also are able to assent to it and accept it, even though it be in great weakness. But since in this life we have received only the first fruits of the Spirit, and regeneration is not as yet perfect but has only been begun in us, the conflict and warfare of the flesh against the Spirit continues also in the elect and truly reborn” (FC SD II 65, 67-68).

We should not and cannot pass judgment on the Holy Spirit’s presence, operations, and gifts merely on the basis of our feeling, how and when we perceive it in our hearts. On the contrary, because the Holy Spirit’s activity often is hidden, and happens under cover of great weakness, we should be certain, because of and on the basis of his promise, that the Word which is heard and preached is an office and work of the Holy Spirit, whereby he assuredly is potent and active in our hearts (2 Cor. 2:14ff.)” (FC SD II 12-14).

Overhead: Galatians Class 39 Overhead
Handout: Faith working through love handout
Handout 2: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 5 2 thru 15

#60- Christ Did Not Say Accept Every Resolution of the Pope, Cardinals, and Bishops

“‘Let us agree on the definition {of the words ‘Christian Church’ and ‘Holy Spirit’}, that we may understand the language.’

‘Yes,’ you say, ‘I have in mind the pope in Rome, the cardinals, bishops, doctors, and spiritual fathers when they convene, decree, and order something.’ Let the devil reward you for this! It is he who bids you misuse this glorious name, which deserves to be revered, for such tomfoolery; for example, for decreeing what is to be eaten or drunk on this or that day, or how long the bishop’s mantle is to be, or the dimensions of a monk’s cowl or tonsure, or how far up or down each one is to sit. Is this what you call Christ’s Word or ordinance? Or did He or His apostles ever teach this with as much as a word?

You see that these knaves are double-tongued. They take the words “Holy Spirit” and ‘church’ and apply them to their trumpery, but they do not teach a word of what Christ said and commanded. In fact, they teach and do the very opposite; and under the pretext of the name of Christ and the Holy Spirit they lead the people away from Christ and the Holy Spirit. Christ did not say that I must believe and accept every resolution of the pope, the cardinals, and the bishops; He said that I should hearken to the Christian Church, which has the Holy Spirit, who is sent by the Father in Christ’s name and teaches nothing but what Christ said. This is to be the church, and I must identify it by these marks” (Luther’s Works, v. 24, p. 174).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 38: Faith Working Through Love

Class #38:  In chapter 5, verses 1-4, St. Paul is warning the Galatians against requiring the keeping of any law into the article of justification by faith.  Those who are trying to be justified by law–which is impossible–have already fallen from grace.  The works-righteous requirements of the Judaizers does not avail anything, but only separates from Jesus Christ.

With verse 5-6, St. Paul contrasts the actions of those who follow the false teachers with the actions of himself and those who have remained true to his doctrine.  True believers “wait.” That is, they know that they are already justified through faith in Jesus Christ.  They wait for the final judgment when it will be revealed that they were, in fact, the saved ones. This godly waiting is not a lack of activity.  A confident, waiting faith produces love toward the neighbor.

Note: At a few points in this recording, there is an annoying clicking from a failing microphone battery.

Overhead: Galatians Class 38 Overhead
Handout: Faith working through love handout
Handout 2: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 5 2 thru 15

#59- Teach The Word As It Is Or Keep Your Hands Off It Altogether

“There are two parts to this text. Christ says clearly: ‘The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name’ and ‘He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.’ The most important words are ‘in My name’ and ‘all that I have said to you.’ These words they dismiss from their mind and overlook, as though they were nothing or were spoken by a fool. But my dear devil, it will never do to dismember and mutilate a text! Put your spectacles on your nose, and either look at the text in its entirety or keep your hands off it altogether. Christ says that it is to be the Holy Spirit’s office to teach Christendom the Word of the Lord Christ and to bring it to mind. And later (15:24) He says: ‘He will bear witness to Me,’ and ‘He will glorify Me’ (16:14). He does not say: ‘He will confer on the church the power to resolve and order what it pleases about God’s Word. It is not the Holy Spirit’s office to alter Baptism, the Gospel, and the Sacrament, or to institute new laws and ordinances. No, it is His office to deal solely with My Word, ordinances, and commandments, to implant these in you and to teach you what I have said.’

With this support it is an easy matter to reply to the devil: ‘I do indeed hear your awesome words ‘Christian Church’ and ‘Holy Spirit,’ before which everyone is to bow without a word of contradiction. But I also insist on hearing what and who the Christian Church is and what is called the Christian Church. Let us agree on the definition, that we may understand the language’”  (Luther’s Works, v. 24, p. 173).

Galatians Bible Study, Pt. 37: The Whole Law

Class #37:  Having completed his teaching on salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, the Apostle St. Paul now drives home what would be the result for the Galatians, if they obeyed the yoke of law provided by the Judaizers.

  • Christ will profit you nothing.
  • You will be a debtor to the whole law.
  • You will be estranged from Christ.
  • You will have fallen from grace.

Those attempting to be justified by even the smallest part of the Law have already fallen from grace.

Overhead: Galatians Class 37 Overhead
Handout: Galatians Bible Study Chapter 5 2 thru 15