Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This rather simple question for Christians was answered with complexity on a recent podcast by a very learned man in a celebrated position. His crowd had deduced that the chicken came first but was birthed by a different bird. Huh? So much for science without God! However, this apology is somewhat like the confusing philosophy that Apostle Paul addressed in Galatians.
A. The Claim
- Paul had faced the issue of Christians being circumcised and following the law before, in Antioch. He refers to this in Galatians 2.1-10; see Acts 15.1-4, also. He had traveled with members of the opposition to Jerusalem to meet with James (not the brother of Apostle James, according to Acts 12.2, but half-brother of Jesus and head of the church; Acts 12.17, 15.13, 21.18), Apostle Peter, and Apostle John – the reputed pillars of the Christian ‘way’. They supported the ‘revelation’ that Paul had from Jesus (Galatians 1.12) and sent Paul out to evangelize the Gentiles. The Jerusalem Council had ruled that faith alone was sufficient.
- Paul, even, dressed down Peter for dissociating with Gentiles in Antioch when Jewish Christians arrived from James. Paul accused him of being duplicitous in expressing his beliefs; see Galatians 2.11-16. Perhaps, Peter had not fully accepted the change of behavior needed to ‘walk the talk’. Is the sufficiency of faith in Jesus alone (John 14.6) fully settled in your mind? How do you know? Are your works of service a cause (Church of Christ; Mormon Church) for your salvation or a result? State Galatians 2.16-19 in your own words as an explanation.
B. Essence of the Rebuttal
- Does God act because of the Law (Decalogue + Mosaic additions from God) or because of faith? This is Paul’s question in Galatians 3.5 (NASB): “So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”
- Who provides the Holy Spirit? John 14.16-17.
- Who works miracles? Genesis 34.10; Mark 16.15-20 (especially verse 20); 1 Corinthians 2.4-5, 12.9.
- God honors our ‘hearing with faith’. Habakkuk 2.4; John 3.16-18; illustration in Numbers 21.8-9, a ‘look’ resulting from faith; but why did some not look?
- 4. So, what place the ‘fleshly’ works of the Law? Galatians 6.8, 5.16-24.
- More importantly, how was God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12.1-3 superior to God’s Decalogue to Moses in Exodus 20.1-17?
- In Galatians 3.6, Paul emphasized that Abraham’s faith in God’s promise distinguished him. Thus, your faith makes you a descendant of Abraham, explaining your connection to the benefits of Genesis 17.7. What does it mean to you that God is God to you? Reflect upon Genesis 26.2-5; where do you fit in? Does this explain Paul’s confident statements in Philippians 4.13, 18-19? Are these your statements?
- Paul’s explanation of the relationship of the Law to the Promise reaches a climax in Galatians 3.21-22. The Law only made people aware of their sin and separation from God, as Paul would later write in Romans 7.7-11. As Paul emphasized: the Law could not give life!
- Paul nailed the point in Galatians 3.24-25: faith in Jesus displaced the Law’s tutoring! The Law expressed the need for the ‘Seed’ (Galatians 3.16) of the promise to rescue (Galatians 1.4) from death! How do these arguments instruct you about confronting aberrant philosophies?
- Galatians 3.17-18 is Paul’s ‘chicken or egg’ comparison. Who came first, Abraham or Moses? How are they related?
C. How do these arguments instruct you about confronting aberrant philosophies?
- Understand your own beliefs convincingly. See Paul’s rationale in Galatians 2.18-21. This understanding is his reference in 2 Corinthians 10.3-6 and what he means in Romans 12.2.
- Probe to understand the foundations of the opposing philosophies. Paul did this with the philosophers at Mars Hill; see Acts 17.16-31. How did he use their arguments as a beginning and emphases for his apology?
- Paul illustrated your answers to utopian (future), existential/secular-humanist (present), and traditional (past) philosophers in 1 Corinthians 11.26: “For as often (present) as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death (past) until He comes (future).” (My parenthetical inserts.)
- Engage such discussions only when the Holy Spirit crosses your path with philosophers (Isaiah 55.5) and let Him speak the words they need to hear (Isaiah 30.21). You are only the medium for sending the message from the Sender to the receiver…He has chosen. He will make sure you accomplish His task. Just obey!
Praise God!!! Matthew 23.39! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2016. www.sozoclass.com.