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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary

Galatians 3

Verses 10-29

The Cross and Its Objectives

Galatians 3:10-29 ; Galatians 4:1-6

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

The Cross must ever stand forth in the limelight of Bible and spiritual study. Apart from Christ's Calvary work we have nothing to present to a dying world.

On one occasion the president of a college told us that his chief ambition was to present to his students the beautiful life of Jesus of Nazareth. We immediately replied that there could be no excessive imitation of the life of Christ until first of all we have known the regenerative power and saving grace of the death of Christ.

The beautiful and sinless life of the Nazarene acclaimed Him the Son of God. It gave unto the world a possible Saviour, but not an actual Saviour. In other words Christ's Deity apart from the shedding of His Blood could never have brought salvation. It is not the spotless Lamb, but the spotless Lamb slain that is the central theme of God's Word. Let us suggest a few things for your consideration.

1. Jesus Christ was given to die from before the foundation of the world. It was even before the creation of man that God the Son started His journeyings toward the Cross. The Bible speaks of Him as "the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world." He was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God; before even Adam was created God knew that he would sin. God knew the results of his sinning and how men would die in Adam. It was for this cause that God made provision for man's redemption before he had sinned.

2. Jesus Christ as a Babe born marched steadily toward His Cross, We do not say that the Babe saw Calvary, for we do not understand all of the ministry of the incarnate. We would say that the Babe was born to die. It was for this cause that Christ took upon Him a body of flesh and blood. We know that early He was consciously moving toward Calvary and His great sacrifice. He talked constantly of His death. He told Nicodemus that as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. He spoke to the disciples of John saying that the bridegroom would be taken away and the children of the bridegroom would fast. He spoke of the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep. There is no disputing the fact that the Lord knew and foretold His anguish long before He went to the Cross.

3. Jesus Christ in the agony of His dying offered the Just for the unjust. It was for this cause, that, having loved His own He loved them unto the end. He knew that through His death many would live, therefore, He gave Himself as a ransom. He was not ignorant that He would lay down His life for the sheep. He was not ignorant that He had come to seek and to save that which was lost. He knew that salvation would be obtained through His laying down His life, and His taking it up again. It was for this cause that He went as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers, He was dumb. Let us forever throw from us the statement that Christ died as a martyr to a lofty ideal. The reason Christ died upon the Cross was because He came from God to be a Saviour.

4. Jesus Christ crucified should be the message of every sermon. It is said that Christmas Evans never preached without the blood in the basin. We realize how vital the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the Second Coming are to the faith of the Church; however, none of these are vital apart from the Cross. Every blessed doctrine of the Bible is indissolubly linked to the substitutionary sacrifice of the Son of God.

When the Lord Jesus died He saw all of those objectives of His Cross. It is the purpose of this lesson to consider some of the great and outstanding reasons for Calvary. We propose to answer the query: Why did Jesus Christ die? The Epistles give us at least seven distinct perspectives of the Cross. Let us outline them for you.

1. Christ died to save us from the curse of the Law (Galatians 4:5 ).

2. Christ died to make us the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21 ).

3. Christ died to deliver us from the dominion of sin (Romans 6:17-21 ).

4. Christ died to save us from this present evil age (Galatians 1:4 ).

5. Christ died that we might live for Him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ).

6. Christ died that we might receive the placing as sons (Galatians 4:5 l.c.).

7. Christ died that we might live together with Him (1 Thessalonians 5:10 ).

I. CHRIST DIED TO SAVE US FROM THE CURSE OF THE LAW (Galatians 4:5 )

1. The demands of the Law. The Law of God is holy, just and good. Its standards never fall short of the righteousness of God Himself. God did not give unto man laws of conduct which were adapted to a sinful nature. He gave him laws that shone forth in the glory of unapproachable light. The Law of God presents the demands of the character of God. Its demands are absolutely beyond the possibility of any human compliance.

2. The curse of the Law. The Bible tells us, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the Book of the Law to do them." The sinner naturally throws up his hands in horror crying out that God gave us a Law that could not be kept and then cursed us for not keeping it. That is very true. It is for this cause that by the Law comes the knowledge of sin. The Law never was given as a method of redemption. It came that all men might realize their own iniquities and see their own sin. As the Law in His perfectness and glory shines down from Heaven the sinner is made to quail and to cower.

3. Christ made a curse for us. It was because the curse of the Law was upon the sinner that God sent the Saviour. He who knew no sin was made sin for us. The result is that the curse of the Law is forever taken away.

"Free from the Law, O happy condition

Jesus hath died, and there is remission;

Cursed by the Law, and bruised by the fall,

Christ hath redeemed us once for all."

II. CHRIST DIED TO MAKE US THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN HIM (2 Corinthians 5:21 )

Even with the curse of the Law transferred to Christ, and our being made free from the curse of the Law in Him, we yet would have been left with sinful hearts. It was for this cause that the work of the Cross went farther than to remove the curse. The Cross makes us the righteousness of God. There are three things to consider.

1. The heart is sinful by nature. No one can ever describe the villainy of the human heart. It is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. From the head to the foot there is no soundness in the human life. The feet are swift to shed blood; the tongue is full of deadly poison.

2. The sin of the sinner is placed on the Saviour. When Jesus Christ died on the Cross God put all of our sins upon Him. They were not there theoretically, but actually. He took our penalty; He did more He was made sin for us. These things cannot be explained, but nevertheless they are facts.

3. The righteousness of the Saviour is placed on the saved. This is what we call imputed righteousness. When God placed on Christ our sins, He placed on us Christ's righteousness. In the sight of God, because of Calvary, we are righteous and without sin. God sees no sin in us because He sees it in the Son. This righteousness, of course, is made real to us only when we by faith accept the Saviour.

III. CHRIST DIED TO DELIVER US FROM THE POWER OF SIN (Romans 6:6 ; Romans 6:17-21 )

With the curse of the Law removed and the righteousness of God imputed to the believer we might think that the great objectives of the Cross were completed, but not so. If the believer is to receive only the imputed righteousness of Christ, then he would be left a dupe and slave to sin's rule in his earth life. Thus the purposes of God went far beyond righteousness imputed. They also included righteousness imparted.

1. We were the servants of sin. This is the message of Romans 6:17 . There is little use to enlarge upon it because all of us know that we were slaves to evil. We once walked in divers lusts. We believe that it might truly be said that no one has ever been saved who did not recognize himself as a sinner.

2. We are the servants of righteousness. The Lord Jesus not only gave us His righteousness, but He proclaimed us as the servants of that righteousness. He not only saved us from sin's penalty, but He saved us from sin's power. He said, "Sin shall not have dominion over you."

Christ died that this body of sin might be made powerless; that it might be done away. Romans 6:1-23 opens with the question, "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" Then the Holy Spirit with great agitation cries out, "God forbid"! He adds, "How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"

3. We have the fruit unto holiness. We who once were the servants of sin; we who have been saved from sin and its guilt; we who, in the risen Christ, through the Holy Spirit, Have now our deliverance from sin's power and dominion, are placed in a position to bring forth fruit unto holiness. This is God's will for us that we should be holy in our walk, our life, and our deeds.

IV. HE DIED TO SAVE US FROM THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD (Galatians 1:4 )

1. The call of the world. The unsaved walk according to the course of this world, according to the principalities and powers of the air. We, too, of old had our conversation in the lusts of the flesh. We, too, were led captive by the evil world.

2. The call of the Cross. When we came to Jesus Christ, and the Lord saved us by His Blood, He saved us out of this present evil world. He said, "Ye are not of the world." He tells us that the world will hate us. Thus let the believer say with Paul, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." The call of the Cross is, therefore, the call to separation from the world.

3. The call of another world. The Lord takes us out that He may lead us in. If we are saved from this present evil world, we are saved that we may become pilgrims to another world, and to another city. Strangers here, we journey to something far better. Even now we can hear the call of another country, and of another city, and, turning our back upon the present world, we press our way toward the mansions on high.

"I am a stranger here, within a foreign land,

My Home is far away upon a golden strand;

Ambassador to be in lands beyond the sea,

I'm here on business for my King."

V. CHRIST DIED THAT WE MIGHT LIVE FOR HIM (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 )

How wonderfully the objectives of the Cross are sweeping before us! First of all, we saw that Christ died to deliver us from the curse of the Law. Then we saw that He died to make us righteous in Him. Third, He died to deliver us from sin's dominion; fourth. He died to save us out of this present evil age.

Now we come to that great statement: He died that we might live the rest of our time in the flesh, unto Him.

1. Our life in times past. We would like to draw the curtain over the old days when we walked according to the course of this age, yet, sometimes, we need to remember the pit out of which we were digged. Once we lived for ourselves. Once we served the world. At that time we set our affections on things which are upon the earth.

2. Our new life in Christ Jesus. Since we are saved, we have a new life. New ambitions and new aspirations now govern our life. If any man be in Christ Jesus He is a new creation. The result is that the old things have passed away, and all things have become new. We are now to put off the old man which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts, and to put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

3. The plea for consecration. As we think of our life in times past, and the new life which we now have in Christ Jesus, we catch the vision of the plea found in our text: "That we might live for Him." Christ died for this very purpose. He wants us to bring our bodies and present them unto Him as a living sacrifice. He wants us to yield ourselves unto Him, and to yield our members as the instruments of righteousness unto Him. What a tremendous plea, and what a righteous plea is this. If He died for us, we should certainly be willing to live for Him.

VI. CHRIST DIED THAT WE MIGHT RECEIVE THE PLACING OF SONS (Galatians 4:5 , l.c)

When the Lord Jesus Christ went to Calvary He had this eternal "placing" in His mind. He knew that we were to be recognized in the new creation as sons.

1. What we were. We were the children of wrath, the children of disobedience, cursed children. There is a great deal of talk these days of the universal fatherhood of God. Such talk is utterly unscriptural, and wholly impossible. The unregenerate are children of the wicked one; they are children of darkness, and not of light. Sonship demands fatherhood, therefore, only those who have been begotten of God are sons of God. God is the Father only of those whom He begets. We once were creatures of God; we never were sons of God until we were born again.

2. What we are. The very moment that regeneration took place, the very moment that we were born from above, we became the sons of God. John delighted to write, "Now are we the sons of God." There is a vast difference between creaturehood, and sonhood. When we were saved we passed out of death, and into life. How sacred and holy is this fact! How glorious and wonderful it is to be a son!

3. What we shall be. When our text says that Christ died that we might receive the adoption of sons, there was a far deeper meaning than our English translation expressed. The adoption of sons means the placing of sons. We who are born again are already sons, but we have not yet reached the maturity of our sonship; therefore we have not yet received our placing as sons. This placing will occur as soon as the Lord comes. How blessed is our destiny in the eternal ages with Christ! We are not to be slaves, but sons. If we are children, then we are heirs. If we are sons who suffer with Christ then we are joint-heirs together with Christ, of all that God is and all that God has, and we shall reign with Him.

VII. CHRIST DIED THAT WE MIGHT LIVE WITH HIM (1 Thessalonians 5:10 )

We now come to the great final climax of Christ's Calvary objective. He died to save us from the curse of the Law; that was good. He died to make us the righteousness of God; that was better. He died to deliver us from sin's power; that was blessed. He died to save us from this present evil age; that was necessary. He died that we might live for Him; that was a privilege. He died that we might receive the placing of sons; that is climactic. But listen now!

He died that we might live with Him. Wherever He is we also are to be.

1. Let us take a backward look. Let us remember the time when we were appointed unto wrath. At that time we were without God and without hope in the world.

2. Let us take an onward look. The believer's final glory is to be forever with the Lord. The placing of sons is glorious, but how much more glorious is the knowledge that we shall be sons at Home. Sons, not wandering afar, but sons cloistered in the presence of the Father, and He then our great, eternal Elder Brother. Let us live every day in blessed and hallowed anticipation of that hour when our Lord shall descend from Heaven, and we shall be changed and made forever like unto Him "So shall we ever be with the Lord."

AN ILLUSTRATION

WHEN LITTLE JIM GAVE HIS BLOOD

"Jonathan loved him as his own soul" (1 Samuel 18:1 ). The little daughter of a friend of mine, five-year-old Mary, underwent an operation and lost so much blood that it was necessary to resort to blood transfusion. Samples of the blood of all the adults of the family were taken, but none was found to match Mary's. Then a test was made of her older brother's blood. It was found to match. Jimmy is a husky boy, thirteen years old and deeply fond of little Mary. "Will you give your sister some of your blood, Jim?" asked the doctor. Jimmy set his teeth. "Yes, sir, if she needs it!" The need was very desperate so the boy was at once prepared for the transfusion, In the midst of the drawing of the blood, the doctor observed Jimmy growing paler and paler. There was no apparent reason for this. "Are you ill, Jim?" asked the doctor. "No, sir, but I'm wondering just when I'll die." "Die?" gasped the doctor. "Do you think people give their lives when they give a little blood?" "Yes, sir," replied Jimmy. "And you were giving your life for Mary's?" "Yes, sir," replied the boy, simply. Can you tell of a finer heroism than this? Christian Herald.

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Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Galatians 3". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/galatians-3.html.