I always thought that I was as far from legalistic as you could get. What does the Apostle Paul, a former Pharisee, have to say about the subject? Be prepared; I think that the answer might change your whole outlook as well.
As I look at the church in America today, I can’t help comparing us to what I read in the book of Acts. I’m also thinking about the stories I heard from my grandparent’s generation. They came to the Lord in the wake of the Azusa Street revival. When they were saved they saw miracles, healings, signs, and wonders. What’s happened to us since then?
You may think as I did, “I’m not legalistic.” But do we even know what legalism looks like? Let’s find out what the Paul has to say about it.
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
The word translated foolish in the above verse literally means not thinking. Paul is asking these Galatian Christians why they’re not thinking about what they’re doing.
The next line he writes literally means; who has fascinated you by false representations? It’s obvious from the way he writes that these believers were not being convinced by the truth, but rather a clever counterfeit. Paul reminds them of the fact that when they first believed, they clearly understood that Jesus Christ was crucified for them.
He then asks a simple question – how did you receive the Spirit? The literal answer is that the Spirit was received by the hearing of faith, trusting in God to do the work. This is an important truth.
Faith comes when you hear a Word from God. Whether it’s in your prayer time, during a sermon, or while reading the Scripture – hearing from the Holy Spirit produces faith. Paul was re-emphasizing to them that the law can’t save anyone. The law only condemns.
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing — if it really was for nothing?
This is what we need to understand. If, by all of our rules and self-discipline, we couldn’t even start the salvation process; what makes us think that we can complete it by our own strength?
Paul, however, continues along this line with another question and we have all but ignored its implications.
Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Paul literally asks how does God fully supply you with His Spirit and activate His miraculous power in you? That’s the question of the hour. It’s what the church desperately needs to learn and lay hold of. It’s what the world is dying to see in operation.
I believe that it’s this truth that will usher in the end time harvest of souls before the coming of the Lord. Paul’s answer is that the Spirit is given and His power is activated in you by the hearing of faith. This is where the power of God resides. It’s not a work of the law. It only comes as I hear His voice and let it inspire faith in me. This is the foundation for the miraculous. God and I as co-workers.
He’s looking for someone who’ll listen for His voice. It’s time for the church to enter that intimate place with the Lord. Only then will we see the glory of God released through His people.
Question: What should your mindset be while hearing the Word preached or taught?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017