Dr. S. Lewis Johnson concludes his exposition of the Apostle Paul's exhortations to the Galatian churches written "in large letters."
[Message] Galatians chapter 6 verse 11 through verse 18 is the Scripture reading. Galatians chapter 6 verse 11 through verse 18, the apostle in opening this section makes a statement that can be misunderstood if we read only the Authorized Version. The apostle writes according to the Authorized Version, “Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.” The impression one might get from reading this is that Galatians is a rather long epistle. But that is not the apostle’s point. The word letter is plural in the Greek text and so it should have been rendered, and many of you have a version that renders it this way, “Ye see with what large letters I have written unto you with mind own hand,” and I’ll comment on that in a moment. But he is speaking about the fact that he has written in his own hand this epistle in large letters.
Verse 12, “As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which (that relative pronoun could be rendered, “by whom” or “by which” in the light of the fact that the cross is the prominent feature of the preceding clause I’m going to take it as “by which”) the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (The other, of course, would make good sense too.) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, (that is, this principle of the new creation) peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. (That verse may be punctuated in a slightly different way and it may then be given a different sense. For example, it may be punctuated, “and as many as walk according to this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy also upon the Israel of God. We’ll talk about that later in the message) Henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”
May the Lord bless this reading of his word and let’s bow together in a time of prayer.
[Prayer] Our Heavenly Father we thank Thee and praise Thee for the encouragements and the exhortations that we received from the word of God concerning our prayer life. And we confess, Lord, that so often we forget to spend that important time with Thee in prayer. Forgive us for our sin and enable us Lord to have a true prayer life that glorifies Thee and blesses the people of God. We give Thee thanks and we give Thee praise for the many promises of the word of God that have to do with the life of prayer and communion with Thee. And we as Lord for each one of us, that by Thy grace we may be motivated and enabled to have a more significant prayer life.
We thank Thee for this, the Lord’s day, and another opportunity to gather to hear the minister of the word of God, to have fellowship with fellow believers and to enjoy the day of rest. We give Thee thanks for all of the provisions that Thou hast made for the creatures that Thou hast created.
We thank Thee and praise Thee for the Church of Jesus Christ today. And we pray Thy blessing upon every member of that body of believing people who by the saving ministry of the Holy Spirit have been brought to the knowledge of him whom to know is life eternal. We give Thee praise and thanks for the forgiveness of our sins. And we thank Thee and praise Thee for the other blessings that are associated with the knowledge of our Lord.
We pray Thy blessing every member of this body wherever they may be today. We ask, Lord, especially Thy blessing upon the ministry of the word and may it be the means of edification and strengthening for each of us and for all who belong to this body that Thou hast brought into being in marvelous grace. We give Thee thanks, Lord, for the local manifestations of the body of Christ. And we pray for Believers Chapel and for its elders, and for its deacons, and for its members, and friends, and the visitors who are here with us today. Bless the ministry of the word in the various forms as it goes forth, and also the life of the body.
We give Thee thanks for all of the past. We look forward to the future with anticipation. We especially pray, Lord, for the outreach of the chapel in its publications, and its Bible classes, and its radio ministry, and tape ministry. Bless richly, Lord, and use that ministry for the building up of the saints and for the evangelization of the lost.
We pray especially for those whose names are in our calendar of concern and who have requested prayer. We pray for them. We ask Thy blessing upon them. Give healing in accordance with Thy will. And extend the fullness of Thy mercy to all of them. We commit them to Thee and we pray especially that they may have the since of Thy presence and the sense of Thy ministry to them.
And we pray, Lord, for our country. We ask Thy blessing upon those who are in authority in the United States, and in Texas, and Dallas. We bring them before Thee. We pray that in our society there may be a deeper recognition of the claims of the eternal God, the father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who works through the Holy Spirit to accomplish his purposes. We know that Thou art truly the interpreter of all of the things that are taking place. And the clues to the significance found in the word of God. Help us to remember that and encourage us, and strengthen us as we seek to represent Thee in this world of which we are apart.
We ask, Lord, Thy blessing up our service now, upon the Sunday school that follows, and upon the other meetings of the day. And especially as we gather around the Lord’s table and remember him. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
[Message] The subject for today is “Three Crosses and the Treasure of the World.” We have now, after about sixteen studies in the Epistle to the Galatians, reached the end of the book with its labored, scrawling, sprawling hand. Usually the apostle dictated his letters to an amanuenses or a secretary, and then at the conclusion of his letters he wrote of a few lines by way of salutation in order to attest to the genuineness of what he had just said. For example, at the end of 2 Thessalonians chapter 3 the apostle pens these words, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle so I write.”
So when he writes to the Galatians and he says to them, “Ye see with what large letters I have written unto you with mine own hand,” he’s not trying to treat them like little children and writing in big letters so that they will see what he is saying to them to be able to read it. Nor is he using large letters for emphasis. But rather, he is using large letters evidently because of his own eye trouble and because he did not want to take the time to find an amanuenses. He felt so concerned, such great care, over the Galatians and particularly was concerned over the fact that they appeared to be departing from the principles of grace that he took up the pen in his own hand and with his labored writing, even though in great difficulty due to his eye problems, he nevertheless wrote the whole epistle out in his own hand and appeals to it as evidence of how concerned he is for them. It is his way of saying, “Listen, I’ve had some important things to say to you. I did not bother to get a secretary. You know how difficult it is for me to write and write so that you could understand. I have written this with my own hand and you can tell by the large letters that I have been concerned that you seem to be moving away from the grace of God in Jesus Christ.”
What was so important to Paul? Well, some people might say, “Well, it was just a few little doctrinal differences that do not really mean anything, just some theological points that are rather insignificant.” Now, in the first place the Bible is not composed of theology and devotional thoughts. The Bible is a theology treatise from beginning to end. In fact, every statement in the Bible is a theology statement. Every single sentence in the Bible is a theological sentence. There is no basis whatsoever in saying that part of the Bible is theology and part is not. It is all theology. There may be different kinds of theology, different emphases in the theology, but all of the sentences of the Bible are theological statements and sometimes these statements have the greatest significance. And what Paul is speaking about is something which he regarded of fundamental primary significance.
It was not just a little theological difference that he had with the Galatians that didn’t mean anything. He was talking about a theological different between the systems of law and grace, which ultimately brought to the surface the issues of life and death. If one follows the law, one follows the principle of death. If one is following the principle of grace, he’s following the principle that leads to life. Paul felt so strongly about this that he said in the first chapter of this very epistle, “If any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that which I have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” And so that you might not think that that was a chance statement uttered out of a loss of control of his temper, he repeats it in the nest verse. “Saying just as I’ve said before, I say again, If any man preach any other gospel unto than that which I have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
Paul was talking about two different gospel, not two different interpretations so of the same gospel, two different gospels. In one of them, man stands before God on the basis of human merit. In the other, he stands before God on the merits of Jesus Christ. In the one, he stands before God in the righteousness of his own human doing. In the other, he stands before God recognizing he cannot do anything to satisfy God but Christ has done something that does satisfy him. In the one, the initial movement comes from man, from a decision of his own free will. In the other, the initial movement comes from the effectual grace of the Holy Spirit who makes the unwilling, willing and brings us to Christ. In the one, we are taught, “This do and thou shalt live.” In the other, “It is live by the grace of God and then do this.” In the one, the law commends us and makes demands upon us in order that we may obtain life. And the other grace offers us eternal life, confers it upon us through the instrumentality of faith. In the one, the doctrine tends to inflate our human pride because it suggests to us that we can do something that is acceptable to God. In the other, our boasting shrinks to boasting only in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
No wonder the apostle says, “If that’s true, God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.” The final words enshrine another truth to which I want to refer, and it is the truth of worldliness. There is such a thing in the Bible as worldliness and unfortunately in our Christian church today there is a great deal of worldliness, even among those who named the name of Jesus Christ. It has become popular for the church to become the pal of the world. And so we are inclined to think that is Scriptural for us to be the world’s pal. But to Paul, the world was a dead felon. To Paul, the world was a criminal. It was, to Paul, the same as it was to James who said, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses. Don’t you know that the friendship of the world is enmity against God. Wherefore whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” And that which the Lord’s brother said, the Apostle John echoes in his first epistle when he says,
“Love not the world neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the father is not in him. All the world passeth away and the lust of it, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. The whole world layeth in the wicked on.”
The early Christians did not feel that it was proper for them to be friendly with the world. They felt that if we saw things as the Scriptures put them we would realize that it is the world that has crucified Jesus Christ, and therefore the Christian can never be a friend of the world. The world is not the pal of the Christian. We shall see more of that here in just a moment.
Now, these are the last words of Paul. And you might have thought that the apostle would have said to himself at this point, “Well, I’ve said enough about these people who are advocating circumcision. And I should say some sweeter words as I close the letter.” Not Paul. He has some final warning words addressed to the Judaisers. He thought deeply about this. He was very disturbed over the fact that any should come in among his beloved Galatians and seek to turn them from the grace of God. So he speaks about the Judaisers again and he accuses them of having swollen pride and craven fear. Listen to what he says in the twelfth verse, “As many as desired to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised.” He says, “These Judaisers who are asking you to be circumcised in order to be saved, they do not really have as motive your eternal salvation. Their ultimate motive is send good statistics to their friends down in Jerusalem. That’s what they’re concerned with, ecclesiastical records.”
Now, we might look back and say well that was an interesting thing two thousand years ago, but anyone who’s had any experience with church life knows that one of the great aims of many of those who are engaged in religious work today, one of the greatest of the aims is to send good statistics to headquarters wherever they may be. And it is not today how many have been circumcised as it was then, but it is how many have been baptized. How many were baptized in your church last year? How many in yours? And so on. And so statistics become more important than the eternal salvation through the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul says, “These men are simply desirers of making a fair show in the flesh. They want to write a little letter down to their friends in Jerusalem and say, ‘We’ve been up here in Galatia and we’ve been very effective. We’ve managed to get in among those that this man Paul has been preaching to and preaching his false Gospel to and we’ve managed to sway them so that now they are being circumcised. And at the present moment we have one hundred and twenty four who have been circumcised. Isn’t that great?'”
The apostle goes on to say in verse 12, “Only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ,” so he accuses them not only of a swollen pride, wanting to make a fair show in the flesh, but he accuses them of being gutless. Their pride is not accompanied by courage. They do not want to stand under the offense of the cross. They are cowards. So making a fair show in the flesh, but shrinking from being scorned for Christ’s sake. I am not at all sure that we do not have a great deal of that today. We do have many believers unfortunately, and I’m saying believers not to suggest that these Judaizers were but that same principle pertains.
We have many believers today who are not willing to bear much of the offense of the cross. Today the cross has become a rather ornamental type of thing. And so we were crosses around our necks, we have crosses upon our lapels but it doesn’t really mean anything today because the cross has become a sentimental ornament. It’s like any other type of thing that you may put around your neck. It’s just a necklace or it’s just something that you put in your coat. But in those days it was different. It was as if we should hang a hangman’s’ noose around our neck or put a symbol of a hangman’s noose in our lapel because the cross was the most abominable kind of death. Today we shrink from even breathing the fact that there may have been someone in our family who was hanged in the past for the crime of murder. But then to be crucified was even worse. But the apostle says, “They are afraid of having to bear the offense of the cross. The cross was an offense because it was the death of a criminal. It was the death of a man who was abominated by society. And who wants to be identified with someone who was crucified? The cross, of course, is an offense to human morality because it tells us that no morality can gain us acceptance before God.
When the world crucified Jesus Christ it is effect condemned itself so that the cross is an offense to human morality. It says, “Only the death of a substitute can give us life.” It is an offense to our culture. It says that, “Our education cannot make us acceptable. Coming from a Christian family cannot make us acceptable. Coming from an outstanding family cannot make us acceptable to God.” It is an offense to all of our natural self-righteousness. So it is an offense.
Isn’t it a strange thing that those who profess the name of Christ should have come to the place where they prefer a carnal ordinance before the cross. It’s a rather shocking thing and a revolting thing really, to think that it is possible for a person who professes the Lord Jesus to prefer the right of circumcision to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Imagine. Just imagine. It’s almost as if we prefer other things to the cross and to the revelation in the word of God. If we want to add something to the finished work of the Lord Jesus as expressed in the cross of Christ, it is as if we are not satisfied with what we have in Holy Scripture.
Do we want some new Scripture? Do we want some new Bible to give us truth? Are we dissatisfied with the word of God that we have? Do we want some new Savior, someone who has not loved us enough to loose us from our sins in his own precious blood and provide us a salvation with his work only? Is it possible that we want some new sacrifice in addition to the blood of the cross? Do we want anything in addition to that? Are we unhappy with the salvation that the Lord Jesus has procured for us at the greatest of cost. I think I can understand why the Apostle Paul should say, “Oh, foolish Galatians.” I want to say, “Oh, silly Protestants. Oh, stupid professing Christians to imagine that you can add something to the work of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
One of the greatest things about the cross of Christ is that it cuts us down to size. It lets us know exactly how we stand before God. And all of the human ornament of self-righteousness is stripped away and we are seen to be condemned criminals before God. That’s what the cross means. Do you know why he died between two thieves? God was trying to say, “That’s what you are. You’re thieves. You’re murderers. You’re gangsters.” That’s what he’s trying to show you. That is his inevitable company because he spans as our representative there. That’s what we are before God. Why should any Christian who has come by the Holy Spirit to understand himself fail the feel as the Apostle Paul, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of Jesus Christ. It is that that has delivered me from what I really am.”
Now, Paul doesn’t stop with that. He says in the thirteenth verse, “For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh.” He impugns their motives. Reference for the law is simply a cover-up with these men. As our Lord Jesus said about the Pharisees, “They say and do not.” Why listen, if you really believe that salvation was obtained by the doing of the law you would do it, would you not? The very fact that these men do not keep the law is evidence of the fact that they don’t believe what they are saying, that men get to heaven by keeping the law. They don’t keep the law. They are hypocrites. And furthermore, in their hypocrisy they wish to glory in your flesh. So it is just arrogant bombast on the part of these men.
Now, you might expect Paul, that the fourteenth verse, to say, “But I, in contrast to them who glory in circumcision, I glory in uncircumcision. But surprisingly the apostle does not do that. He says, “But forbid that I should glory save in the cross. For you see now that we live in the new age. The circumcision is irrelevant and uncircumcision is also irrelevant. A man may be circumcised or he may not be circumcised. The way to God is through the cross of Jesus Christ, incidentally, it always was. Even in the Old Testament circumcision was but a sign and a seal of the righteousness that a man obtained through faith. But now it is irrelevant one way or the other. A man’s reference or relatedness to God is through Jesus Christ and through faith apart from any kind of right.
So he speaks about the cross and he glories in it. I’m going to suggest to you that there are three crosses in the fourteenth verse. He says, “But God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s the cross on which Christ died. Then we read, “By which the world is crucified unto me.” That’s the cross on which the world died to Paul. And then Paul says, “And I, to the world.” That’s the cross on which Paul died to the world.
Oh, let’s think about that for just a moment. He says, “God forbid that I should glory save in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.” No, he doesn’t say that does he? He says, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Isn’t it interesting? He could have said death. There is nothing wrong with that. The Bible does say that, but Paul doesn’t even soften his statement by saying death. He says, “Cross”. Cross, he wants you to understand how abominable this death is. “He doesn’t palliate it at all. He doesn’t make it soft and gentle. He just states the truth boldly as it is. “God forbid that I should glory save (in the hangman’s noose) in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Why does Paul glory in the cross? Well, I’m sure he gloried in the cross because it was the greatest exhibition of the attributes of God that we have in human experience. It is a magnificent expression of the justice of God. If we had a salvation in which there was not a death of a redeemer we could have no confidence in the justice of God for sin demands punishment. Sin demands the payment of a penalty and in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ we see the kind of God we have. He is righteous. He is just. He does punish sin. And our Lord Jesus dies that death. So we see the justice of God. And furthermore, if he did not die that just death we would have no since of the forgiveness of sins and even our own conscience would give us no peace and rest because God has built into the human heart the since of the fact that sin must be punished. He has given us even a monitor, a conscience that speaks to us of right and wrong. And so the cross is a matchless exhibition of the justice of God.
How wonderful it is to know that God was just in the sacrifice of Christ so that my salvation is a sure salvation. God has been satisfied. My representative has born the penalty for me and now heaven can exact no further penalty for the penalty has been paid. That, of course, is why this salvation is a salvation of the elect of God. But not only that, this cross is a beautiful manifestation of the love of Jesus Christ. The love manifested in becoming the incarnate son, the love manifested in his life among us, the love manifested in his activity as prophet by which he revealed God. But oh the cross, the greatest exhibition of the love of God that the second person of the Trinity should go to that cross in order to accomplish the will of God.
And the cross is the great exhibition and explanation of the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m sure that in the greatest since the apostle gloried in the cross because it was here that the forgiveness of sins came to be his. “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ because this is where I received the forgiveness of sins.”
I do not know how it is possible for Christians not to glory in the doctrine in the atonement. I don’t know of anything in the doctrine of the atonement that a Christian cannot glory in. I love Mr. Spurgeon’s words at this point. He says, “We fail to see anything in the doctrine of the atonement that we should not glory in. We’ve heard a great many dogs bark against it. But dogs will bay the moon in her brightness. And therefore, we don’t mind their howlings.” Then he goes on to point out that the atonement is something that every Christian must glory in.
There is something else that you would like to glory in. We like to talk about results. Maybe you would like to glory in philosophy. Well, what has philosophy done in saving sinners? How many thieves has philosophy brought to an honest life? How many harlots and prostitutes has philosophy saved and given holiness of life? How many preachers have been saved through philosophy? Preachers, the greatest sinners of all, how many of them have been saved through philosophy, or psychology, or any of the other human sciences which if studied apart from the relationship to the truth of the divine revelation cannot satisfy. In the final analysis it is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus that saves thieves, that transforms prostitutes, that does things for preachers that nothing else can do.
If you examine the life of a Kant, or a Hagel, or a Wittgenstein, or a Whitehead, to take some modern philosophers and check the fruits of their own thoughts you’ll see a great difference between Christianity and modern philosophy, or ancient philosophy for that matter, too.
Now the apostle not only speaks of the cross of Christ, he says something about the cross on which the world died to Paul. You see, the cross condemns the world. The very fact that Jesus Christ died on a cross at the hands of the world is a condemnation of the world. Human reason, it’s condemned by the cross. Public opinion, it’s condemned by the cross. The popular belief, it is condemned by the cross. The assured results of modern science which change rapidly and constantly, condemned by the cross. The allurements of the world, all condemned by the cross. The very disposition that seems to characterize the world of today, condemned by the cross. Make money, be a success, enjoy yourself, all condemned by the cross.
Isn’t it an amazing thing that people can spend their whole lives piling up financial resources? It seems to me as one of the most shortsighted things that a human being can do is to spend his life for the primary goal of making a success in business. What happens? Well, he creates quite a financial estate. He’s built up an estate, and he’s an old man, and his life is wasted and he cannot take it with him. “I know,” someone has said, “if I cannot take it with me, I’m not going.” But nevertheless, that won’t work. He’s got to go. And what happens? Well we who are left, we know what happens. News of his death is in the paper. Then news of the probating of the will and the squabble has all ready begun, and the survivors are fighting over the money. We’ve had too much of this. The result if a wasted life and then throughout all eternity he must think of misplaced ambition. The wrong goal in life, business men I’m speaking to you. I do not say that it’s a bad thing to make money. It’s not a bad thing to be a success. It’s not a bad thing to be the best kind of insurance man that you can be, the best kind of doctor, if you’re a professional man, the best kind of whatever you may be doing. But if that is the predominating motive of your life you’re on the wrong course. You have the wrong goal. Ultimately, you’re living a life that is wasted. Take it to heart. It’s very easy for even a preacher to live for the wrong goal. This is something we all need.
“God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me.” Paul no longer is enslaved by the pursuits of the world, the maxims of the world, the smiles of the world, the treasures of the world. There’s one thing about the Apostle Paul, he took that cross right down into everyday life. And so the third cross is the cross on which Paul died to the world. “And I, to the world.”
Now, I think that what he meant by that was that the world didn’t think much of Paul. He didn’t think much of the world and the world didn’t think much of him. It was mutual antipathy. Now, Paul had been a great man. He had been a great scholar. If he had not been converted he would have had the highest of accolades written after his name. We might have been thinking not about Rachi or Ebenezer, but we might have been citing a man by the name of Saul as one of the great rabbis of all time. He was advanced beyond his contemporaries in Judaism. But when he was converted then the religious world was done with Paul and the world as a whole was done with Paul.
And now, instead of being an object of praise and high regard, he became an object of contempt. And so those who thought highly of him suddenly say, “He’s a fool. He’s an apostate. He ought to be stoned to death.” And that’s what they did to him. They stoned him in Lister, right here in Galatia. So, if Paul was done with the world, the world was done with Paul. And you can be sure of this my dear Christian friend, if you take a stand for Jesus Christ and begin to make him and his cross known having come to the conviction that you are done with the world then soon the world will be done with you. And you’ll have to have the spiritual courage of a Paul to stand for what he stood for.
And I do believe that what Paul is saying is that this cross ought to be taken right down into you own business, you men, right into the room in which you labor, right into your office so that you secretary and your business colleagues and others know exactly where you stand and know plainly. And if you must suffer a few scars for it, glory in it. The apostle says he bore on his body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Do you think God will not care for someone who stands for him? That’s when security really comes, men, incidentally. That’s when real security comes. That’s when real reward comes.
“God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.” May I also remind you of this, that the Lord Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two bishops. He was crucified outside the city. And he was crucified outside the city between two thieves. And it was such a public place, such a place where different cultures passed that they put about his cross his superscription in Greek, in Latin, and in Hebrew. That is, I think, a tremendous message to us that the cross is to be taken right down in the midst of the life that we are living at the present time.
Well, I must hasten on. The apostle says in verse 15, he says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. He’s living in a new sphere. The era of the legalists is to think that they’re living in the age of the law. They’ve past into a new sphere by virtue of the resurrection.
And then in verse 16 he speaks of a benediction of peace and mercy. “As many has walked according to this rule, the rule of the new creation, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” I refer you to the Believers Bible Bulletin for a further exposition of that verse. I merely say this, that I think that the apostle means when he says, “And upon the Israel of God,” that he is not equating the term Israel with the church. That never is done anywhere in the New Testament, never does Israel mean the church. But rather, he is talking about Jewish believers who have not fallen for the gals of the Judaizers. He’s talking about Jewish believers who have come to understand the principles of grace. He’s talking about the remnant according to the election of grace, in which he refers in Romans chapter 11 and verse 5. So his point is this, “As many as walk according to this rule of the new creation, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon those true Jewish believers who have not fallen pray to the Judaisers and thus have not fallen into legalism. They are the Israel of God.
“Henceforth, don’t bother me anymore,” he says, “let no man trouble me.” That’s too nice. “Don’t bother me anymore,” that’s what he means, “Let no man trouble me, for as for me,” these Judaisers, they bear a mark in their body. It’s the mark made by the scalpel. It’s the mark of circumcision. But I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Now, when Paul said that, they knew exactly what was meant. He had been stoned. He bore the marks, the scars of his stonings, the scars of the other experiences in which he had been involved. Many people had sought to put Paul to death. He was like a cat, he had so many lives but the scars were left. They were scars that were there because of his service of the Lord. Their scars were the result of their desire to keep a religious right, which they misunderstood. Bur his scars were the true scars of service to Jesus Christ. The Judaisers are shouters, but they are shirkers. They are swell preachers but they are poor sufferers. They don’t have any scars. The man who is the servant of Jesus Christ will have the scars. They may not be physical. In the kind of society in which we live they probably will not be physical. There may be some physical ones but they probably will not be physical, they will be mental. They will be the scars that one cannot see, the scars of the scorn and the ridicule that true Christians must always bear. They won’t be like John Knox who was hunted like an animal over Scotland. In fact, all over Western Europe, but ultimately became the means of a century or two of blessing to the little land of Scotland and also to the United States. They won’t be like Henry Martin who had a great future before him but turned his back on it, went out, suffered greatly, died a young man, but translated the Bible into Persian, one man to Christ, and has been a blessing to countless thousands where the gospel has not had very free course. They are the scars of the Lord Jesus. Do you have any scars? Have you ever given the kind of testimony for the Lord Jesus that marks you out as a definite Christian?
Finally he says, “Brethren,” this is a beautiful conclusion to the epistle of grace and law. He says, “Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” What a beautiful note on which to end. And further he ends on the note of brethren. Differences fade, the family comes in. But it’s the grace of the Lord, the one who owns us, it’s the grace of the Lord Jesus, Jesus who shall save his people from their sins, the Jesus who has redeemed us, and it’s the grace of the Lord Jesus Messiah.
If you’re here and you have never believed in our Lord Jesus Christ we exhort you to consider the cross of the Lord Jesus and ask yourself the question, “Why did Jesus Christ die? Why did he suffer? Why did he shed his blood?” And ask yourself also the question, “Is it possible that he died because I am a sinner and need a Savior?” May God, the Holy Spirit, touch you heart and enable you to see what you are in the sight of God. And may, by the grace of God, you turn to him and receive him as your own personal Savior. May God enable you to glory in the cross as the apostle gloried in the cross. And may the result be that the treasures of this world no longer have appeal for you, the glory of God become your goal. May we stand for the benediction.
[Prayer] We are grateful to Thee, Lord, for this great passage that the apostle has written reminding us of the tremendous cost and the great significance of the cross of Christ. And Oh God, we do pray that that cross shall be the dominating force of our own lives. Enable us Lord to evaluate our own lives in the light of that cross. And if there are some here who do not know him, Oh Father, work mightily in their hearts for their own salvation through the blood that was should. May grace, mercy, and peace go with us. For Christ’s sake. Amen.