The Israel Of God

Posted by on May 13, 2007

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

May 13, 2007

Sunday Morning

“The Israel Of God”

 

Scripture Text: Galatians 6:11-18

Introduction:

 

A.   As we begin to examine the closing verses of Paul’s letter to the Galatian believers, we notice that he ends his letter the same way that he began it, and that is with a warning against the false teachers (Judaizers) who had infiltrated these Gentile churches.

1. Look again at Vrs. 11-13, Paul said, “Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand….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.”

2. I’m sure that you remember that these Judaizers were Jewish converts to Christ, at least they professed to be, who were telling these Gentile believers that if they really wanted to be saved, not only did they need to trust in Christ, but they also needed to be circumcised.

3. In other words, they (Gentile believers) needed to become Jews by conforming to all the rites and ceremonies of the law of Moses.

4. This, of course, was not true!

5. And so, Paul ends his letter with yet another warning against these false teachers.

 

B.   But that’s not all.

1. Notice again Vrs. 11, Paul said, “Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.”

2. There are two things we can learn from this verse.

3. First of all, we can learn that while it was Paul’s custom to dictate his letters to someone else, he went to the trouble of writing this letter with his own hand.

4. Secondly, we can learn that Paul used larger than normal letters when he wrote this letter.

5. Now this raises a question.

6. Why did Paul pen this letter himself, and why did he use larger than normal letters?

7. While there has been much debate about this question, I think we can safely assume that the primary reason was because Paul wanted to emphasize the importance of what he was saying.

8. Why was it so important that the false teachers be rejected?

9. It was important because they were preaching a false gospel, and those who place their faith in a false gospel will be doomed to an eternity in hell.

 

C.   Now, this morning, I want us to focus our attention on a phrase that Paul used in Vrs. 16 of our text, “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.”

1. Notice the phrase at the end of the verse, “the Israel of God.”

2. Now this raises a question.

3. To whom was Paul referring here?

4. He was asking God to bestow both His “peace” and His “mercy…upon the Israel of God,” but to whom was he referring.

5. Well, it’s clear that he was not referring to unbelieving Israel, or the nation of Israel as a whole.

6. By this time unbelieving Israel, or the nation of Israel as a whole, because of their unbelief, had been “cut off” (“broken off”) from God. (Rom. 11:20)

7. To whom, then, was Paul referring?

8. Our text answers that question.

 

D.   Notice, first of all, that Paul was referring to those who have been…

 

I.       Saved By Faith In Christ Alone.

 

A.   As we have already seen, these false teachers (Judaizers) had tried to persuade the Galatian believers, who were Gentiles, for the most part, that while faith in Christ was necessary, it was not sufficient by itself to guarantee a sinner entrance into heaven.

1. Now let me ask a question.

2. Is faith in Christ alone sufficient by itself to guarantee a sinner entrance into heaven?

3. Apparently it is, because Paul said in Vrs. 14 of our text, “…God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

4. In other words, “God forbid, that I would put my trust in anyone or anything, except in the cross of Christ, as well as the blood that was shed there on my behalf.”

5. There’s no doubt that Paul believed in salvation by faith in Christ alone.

 

B.   Let’s look at some other statements that Paul made on this subject.

1. Turn with me to Rom. 4:1-5, “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?…For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God….For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness….Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt….But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

2. Sounds to me like salvation is by faith in Christ alone!

3. Now turn to Rom. 5:1-2, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:…By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.”

4. Again, sounds to me like salvation is by faith in Christ alone!

5. Now turn to Eph. 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:…Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

6. Finally, turn to Phil. 3:4-9, “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:…Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;…Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless….But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ….Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,…And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”

7. How anyone can read this, and then say that faith in Christ alone is not sufficient by itself to guarantee a sinner entrance into heaven, I will never understand.

8. And so, salvation is by faith in Christ alone.

 

C.   But that’s not all, those who have been saved by faith alone are “the Israel of God.”

1. How can I be so sure?

2. Look back at Gal. 3:6-7, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteous-ness….Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”

 

D.   And so, when Paul made reference to “the Israel of God,” he was talking about those who have been saved by faith alone.

 

E.   He was also talking about those who have been…

 

II.      Shaped Into A New Creation.

 

A.   I don’t know whether you know this or not, but when you placed your faith in Christ as Savior, not only did God save you, but He also created a new person inside of you.

1. Notice again what Paul said in Vrs. 15 of our text, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”

2. Paul said it like this in 2 Cor. 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

3. The word “creature” here means “creation.”

4. And so, what Paul is telling us here is that when God saved us, He created a new person inside of us.

 

B.   Now there’s something that we must understand here.

1. When God created a “new man” within us, He did not take the “old man” away.

2. This is why the Bible talks about the “old man,” as well as the “new man.”

3. Turn with me to Eph. 4:22-24, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;…And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;…And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

4. Notice the difference between the “old man” and the “new man.”

5. The “old man,” Paul tells us, is “corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” while the “new man” is “ created in righteousness and true holiness.”

6. Not only does Paul point out here the difference between the “old man” and the “new man,” but he also tells us that the key to living the Christian life if putting off the old man while at the same time putting on the new man.

7. You probably remember that Paul put it like this in Gal. 5:16, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

 

C.   It all boils down to this.

1. If we are truly saved, we have a choice to make.

2. We have to choose whether to “walk in the Spirit” or to continue fulfilling “the lust of the flesh.”

3. We have to choose whether to “put on the new man” or to continue letting the “old man” call the shots in our life.

4. The choice we make will determine what kind of Christian we will be (either spiritual or carnal).

5. It will also determine, as we learned last week, what we will reap in life, as well as when we stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

 

D.   And so, when Paul referred to “the Israel of God,” he was talking about those who have been shaped into a new creation.

 

E.   Notice, finally, that Paul was also talking about those who have been…

 

III.    Summoned To Suffer For Christ.

 

A.   Here’s something that you may not want to hear.

1. When God saved us, He not only shaped us into a new creation, but He also summoned us to suffer for Him.

2. Listen to what Paul wrote in Phil. 1:29, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;”

 

B.   How did Paul know that living the Christian life included being summoned to suffer for Christ?

1. He knew because of his own personal experience.

2. Look again at Vrs. 17 of our text, “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

3. Now what did Paul mean by that?

4. Well, the word “marks” in our KJV is translated from the Greek word, “stigma,” which literally means “scars of service.”

5. What Paul was saying was, “I bear in my body the scars of serving Christ.”

6. In other words, “Look at my body, and you will see the physical scars that have resulted from all of the persecution that I have endured.”

 

C.   Did Paul know anything about persecution?

1. Let’s let him answer that question.

2. Turn with me to 2 Cor. 11:22-25, “Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I…Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft….Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one….Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned.”

3. You often hear people talk about how Paul was the greatest missionary of all time, other than Christ, of course.

4. That may very well be true, but it is also true that few, if any, have suffered the way that Paul suffered.

5. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

6. Those who desire to be great in God’s kingdom must be willing to suffer for Christ.

7. While we probably won’t be called upon to suffer to the extent that Paul suffered, we can be absolutely sure that we will be called upon to suffer.

8. Paul said it like this in 2 Tim. 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

9. We should note that Paul didn’t say that we “might suffer persecution,” but rather we “shall suffer persecution.”

 

D.   But someone says, “Hey, wait a minute. I didn’t know when I received Christ as my Savior, that this was a part of the deal!”

1. Well, it is a part of the deal, that is if you want to know Christ intimately.

2. Listen to what Paul wrote in Phil. 3:9-10, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:…That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.”

3. Do you want to know Christ intimately?

4. Do you want to achieve greatness in Christ’s kingdom?

5. If so, you must we willing to suffer for Him!

6. I’m convinced that one of the reasons many believers are so shallow, spiritually, is because they are not willing to suffer for Christ (not willing to pay the price).

 

E.   And so, when Paul referred to “the Israel of God,” he was talking about those who have been summoned to suffer for Christ.

Conclusion:

 

A.   Let me ask you a personal question.

1. Are you among (a part of) “the Israel of God”?

2. If so, then you have been saved by faith in Christ alone.

3. If so, then you have been shaped into a new creation.

4. If so, then you have been summoned to suffer for Christ.

 

B.   Perhaps you are not among “the Israel of God.” If that is the case, don’t despair, because you can be. You see, God has made provision for this through Christ, His Son!