Monday, August 24, 2009

A LOOK AT GALATIANS 3-5

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The Old Covenant is a stumbling stone that alienates people from Christ. These three chapters must be in a zillion of the posts on this blog, but I will present them again, for those of you who are interested in a close examination. Keep in mind what I say at the end of every article – This is based on my current understanding. You must research thoroughly, on your own (you, your Bible and Jesus of course) because you cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. Let’s begin!

Galatians 3
Faith or Observance of the Law

1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?

[Okay. Something has changed with the Galatians, and apparently they should know better (you foolish Galatians). What is it? Someone has tricked them about something.]

Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.

[Christ, by His death, brought in the NC, replacing the OC, which had fulfilled its purpose.]

2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?

There it is! The subject! Law or Faith! This is the whole heart of this matter with the Galatians!

What is he asking here? He says they received the Spirit because they believed. Could it be that they have been observing the law AND believing, but forgot that they received the Spirit by believing and not by the observing, and Paul was merely reminding them which one it came by? Or that they observed the law, but didn't believe? That wouldn't even make sense, would it? So obviously, he's saying that there is either observing the law, or there is belief. One or the other. The Holy Spirit doesn't come by the OC law though, because observing the OC law alienates one from Christ. Thus, Paul is asking why they have turned back to the OC.]

3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

[Same thing here. By faith they had received the Spirit, but now they've turned back to the OC. Thinking that the OC was something they were still required to do.]

4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing?

[They had suffered so much under the curse of the OC. But it was good, because it led them to Christ. But if they returned to the OC, then it was all for nothing because they hadn’t gained Christ.]

5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

[Again, he says the Spirit doesn't come by the law, but by belief. What's Paul doing here? Is he correcting a misunderstanding because they were keeping the law and having faith, but forgot that the Spirit came by the faith and not the law? Or did they simply return to observing the OC?]

6Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith,

[The Gentiles would be justified? How? By their Faith. Does it say they'd be justified because they kept the OC AND had faith? No. Simply by their faith.]

and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

[Those who keep the law? No. Those who have faith. The man of what? Law keeping? No. The man of faith.]

10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."

[What could be so difficult to understand in that statement? Rely on observation of law=under a curse. Why/ Because you are cursed if you don’t do EVERYTHING in the Book of the Law… EVERYTHING. If you keep one part, you MUST keep it in it's entirety. Is the statement not clear?]

11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."

[why doesn't it say the righteous live by observance of the law AND faith? Because they are separate. They are oil and water. Just as Jesus said about the new cloth not being compatible with the old, or the new wine with the old wineskin. They are not compatible. You CANNOT put them together!]

12The law is not based on faith;

[So one is to keep a law which is NOT based on faith and combine it with faith?! How do you take that which IS NOT faith based and combined it with faith?]

on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them."

[This means they are your whole life. You keep the whole thing!]

13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law

[How did He do that? Did He say, "the law is no longer a curse because previously you weren't allowed to have faith while observing it, and that made it a curse, but now I've given you permission to have faith with it so it won't be a curse any more."? Of course not. That doesn't even make sense, does it? God isn't a God of confusion. No, He did it by ending the old, which wasn’t faith based, and giving the new, which is faith based.]

by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

[By faith.. we might receive the promise of the Spirit.]

The Law and the Promise

15Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.

[In what case? In the case of the Covenants. NO ONE can set aside or add to a human covenant, OR to God’s Covenant.. not even for lack of a Temple or even practicality! God’s Covenants CANNOT be altered or set aside. Not even God would do so, because He keeps His word. He didn’t alter anything. He simply implemented the New Covenant He had prepared to follow the previous one, once it had been completed.]

16The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.

[What's he talking about? It's about the fact that it was faith based with Abraham, and just because, 430 years later, He introduced a law-based covenant to Israel, doesn't mean that the faith-based covenant previously established by God is set aside or does away with the promise of a multitude of children – It was a temporary Covenant with an expiration date, set in place for a specific purpose, which had been fulfilled.]

18For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise;

[If the inheritance depends on the law, then the promise was meaningless. It's one, or the other. They are oil and water. Not compatible.]

but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

19What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions

[Israel's.]

until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.

[It had an expiration date. The date of the death of Christ on the cross. At this point it would no longer be all about Israel, but the Gentiles, also, would be included in the inheritance.]

The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.

[That mediator was Moses.. the ‘go-between’ between God and the Israelites. God is one party.. Israel is the other party in this Covenant.]

21Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not!

[He's already said that the introduced temporary, law-based covenant would not set aside the faith-based covenant previously established with Abraham.]

For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.

[Why? Because no law-based covenant can impart life. Why? Because the one observing it would have to be perfect. We know that's just not possible. Otherwise, we would be told that righteousness can come by a law.]

22But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin,

[Why?]

so that what was promised,

[eternal life]

being given through faith in Jesus Christ,

[not the law]

might be given to those who believe.

[Jew and Gentile, alike.]

23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law,

[held prisoners.. By what? The law.]

locked up until faith should be revealed.

[locked up.. For how long? Until faith should be revealed. Revealed in the New Covenant, telling us that salvation can only come by faith. Faith in Christ Jesus.]

24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ

[The purpose of the law was to lead us to Christ. How? If you were being held prisoner and were told that there was someone who could free you, would you not seek him out? By being cursed under the law and then having Jesus step in to free us from that curse (by ending the law-based covenant and presenting a faith-based covenant, again (as with Abraham. The man of faith.)) Why was the law temporarily put in charge to lead us to Christ?]

that we might be justified by faith.

[Since we can’t be justified by the law.]

25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

[What did that say? We are no longer under the supervision of the law. What does that mean, ‘We are no longer under the supervision of the law?’ We are no longer supervised by the law. The law has left the building, (sorry, couldn’t resist that one.) We are no longer under the rule of the law, because what the law was intended to do, had been done, had been fulfilled and Christ had given a New Covenant, a faith-based covenant.]

Sons of God

26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,

[Because the OC alienates us from Jesus, but the NC enables us to receive Jesus in us, and only in this way can we be sons of God.]

27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

[Baptized into Christ, not the law.]

28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

[Now that’s a powerful statement! Read it again… There is no longer ‘those who observe the law’ and ‘those who do not’, for we are all one in Christ by faith, through the NC.]

29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed,

[They go hand-in-hand; Christ and Abraham… FAITH. Abraham is the man of faith. Not the man of law. If you belong to Christ, then you have part in the promise.]

and heirs according to the promise.

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Galatians 4

1What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.

[So, as a little boy, though you are heir to the throne, you do not sit on the throne, and you are still bossed around by those who teach and guide you. Just as Israel was by the OC.]

2He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.

[And what was that time set by the Father? The moment His Son would die on the cross. Thus ushering in the New Covenant. The one that would replace the Old, and now include even those who were not Israel… The Gentiles, that they too, might receive salvation by faith.]

3So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,

[So, they were slaves to sin, slaves to the law, for a period of time. Even Christ was subject to the law… up until the time set by the Father.]

5to redeem those under law,

[He exchanged His life for ours. He freed us from the law, from the curse of the law, from the death penalty.]

that we might receive the full rights of sons.

[Receiving this by faith. By this faith we become sons. Not by law, but by faith. And…]

6Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

[Do we receive that Spirit by observance of law, or by faith? By faith. No longer a slave.. to sin, to the law.]

Paul's Concern for the Galatians

8Formerly, when you did not know God,

[Being Gentile, they did not know God.]

you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?

[Now that they know God because the NC includes them, how is it they turn back to the OC?

Let’s pause here a moment… Some may argue that they had not gone back to observing the OC, but to their pagan ways. I ask you this, then: Does that argument hold any water, whatsoever, if we look back at the beginning of Paul’s questions? Look at chapter 3 verse 2. If this is about a return to Pagan ways, then let’s replace some words to indicate so (in red), and see if it makes sense: “Did you receive the Spirit by observing pagan days or by believing what you heard?” Really? These guys thought they could receive the Holy Spirit from one God, while worshiping another god (idols)? That’s not a logical argument.

Let’s look at verse 3 the same way, replacing some words to indicate pagan observance: “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are now trying to attain eternal life by returning to pagan worship?” These guys must have been REAL ignorant if they actually thought they could receive the gift of one God, from another god (idol).

And verse 5: “Does God give his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the pagan law, or because you believe what you heard?” Again, it doesn’t make sense, does it? He is asking if they received the Spirit by observing the OC or by their belief. That actually makes logical sense, doesn’t it? We will visit this issue again in verses 21-31, just a little further down the page.]

Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

[They had returned to OC observance.]

12I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. 13As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

17Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.

[There were Jews who were trying to convince them that they must be circumcised, avoid certain meats, observe certain days…]

18It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. 19My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,

[Wait. What did he mean by that? “…until Christ is formed in you.”? Because earlier, he was asking how they had received the Spirit… Is he saying they no longer have the Spirit in them and thus is in the pains of childbirth until Christ is again formed in them?]

20how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

[And now comes the analogy that compares Hagar and Sarah with the OC and the NC:]

Hagar and Sarah

21Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?

[If you want to be under the OC, you should be aware of what the OC says, which is: Those under the OC will not inherit with those under the NC.]

22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.

[Note the use of the words ‘slave’, and ‘free’.]

23His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way;

[Note the words ‘slave’ and ‘ordinary’.]

but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

[Note the words ‘free’ and ‘promise’.]

24These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants.

[He says he’s making an analogy here, Hagar is one Covenant, and Sarah is the other Covenant:]

One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.

[So the Covenant given at Mount Sinai bears children who are slaves, represented by Hagar.]

25Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.

[Meaning that the children of the OC, are slaves, and corresponds to the physical, the old, Jerusalem.]

26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.

[Meaning that the children of the NC are free, and corresponds to the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven in Rev. 21

27For it is written:
"Be glad, O barren woman,

[Who is the barren woman? How about the Gentiles? Because they had not been God’s people.]


who bears no children;
break forth and cry aloud,
you who have no labor pains;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband."

[Meaning that there will be far more children of God coming from the Gentiles than that of the Israelites, (she who has a husband).]

28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.

[Those who belong to Christ, are the children of Abraham, the children of promise.]

29At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.

[Just as Ishmael persecuted Isaac, it is the same now, the Jew persecutes the Gentile.]

30But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son,

[Get rid of the OC and it’s children,]

for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son."

[for the slave Covenant’s, (OC) children will never share in the inheritance with the free Covenant’s (NC) children.]

31Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

[Therefore, we are not children of the OC (slaves), but of the NC (free).]

[Okay, back to the pagan days issue. Let’s see what he says to them about these pagan days in chapter 4:21-31.

Verse 21: “Tell me, you who want to be under the pagan law, are you not aware of what the pagan law says?”. 22 Abraham had two sons, one by the pagan woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the pagan woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

24These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent one pagan covenant and one covenant from God. One covenant is from the pagan gods and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25Now Hagar stands for pagan stuff and corresponds to some pagan place, because she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27For it is written:
"Be glad, O barren woman,
who bears no children;
break forth and cry aloud,
you who have no labor pains;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who is a pagan."

See how badly this theory falls apart? You have to read the entire letter and and keep the subject matter in mind. You can’t take one sentence and say it means something that takes it out of context from the rest of the letter. How can Paul go on and on about the OC and the NC through this whole letter to the Gentiles, and yet in 4:9 be referring to pagan stuff? :/ It’s just like a simple English class assignment: Who? What? Where? When? Why? Remember those? ..Read the story, Who is speaking? Who’s he speaking to? What is it about? Where does it take place? When does he write the letter (after what, takes place), Why? etc. You can keep this experiment in mind as you read the next chapter as well. It’s all part of the letter to the Galatians.]

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Galatians 5
Freedom in Christ

1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

[Christ set us free from the OC, the curse of the OC. Stand firm then, and don’t let yourselves be burdened again by the slavery of the OC.]

2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.

[If you put yourself under the OC, because you believe it’s required, Christ will be of no value to you, in that He saves those under the NC.]

3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

[If you keep one part of the law, because you believe you are required to, you are obligated to obey the whole law.]

4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

[Simply stated, if you are keeping the law because you think it’s required, then you have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.]

5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

[So how do I understand all this? I understand it to mean that there is no issue in observing these things so long as you understand they’re NOT required. However, there is serious issue if you do it as if a requirement, or teach that it is so, to others. Because by this, one becomes separated from Christ Jesus, our Savior! How do we obtain salvation if we are separated from our Lord?

7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

[It’s not from God, he says.]

9"A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough."

[No need to comment here. Except that perhaps we derive a whole new meaning.]

10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.

[And we, clearly, know what this means… And however convincing he may seem.]

11Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted?

[He says, clearly, that he is no longer preaching OC.. otherwise, why is he still being persecuted for preaching the NC?]

In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

[He sounds pretty upset about the Galatians being led astray from the true gospel, by these people.]

13You, my brothers, were called to be free.

[Called to be free.]

But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

[Just because you’re free from the OC doesn’t mean that love doesn’t guide your heart.]

14The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

[And there it is: LOVE.]

15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Life by the Spirit

16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

[Because if you are led by the Spirit, it’s because you belong to Christ. If you belong to Christ, it’s because you believe/have faith. If you believe/have faith, then you have stepped away from a law that is NOT faith-based. Because the two are contrary to each other… one brings life, the other brings death. You cannot obligate yourself to that which brings death AND that which brings life. That’s just illogical. It’s also illogical to obligate yourself to that which brings death. So, that leaves life! Life comes by faith! Through Christ! And Christ alone!]

19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

[You notice we don’t see a list that includes Sabbath breaking, eating unclean meats or not observing Holy Days. It’s because that Contract ran it’s course, making way for the New Contract.]

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

[Again, you notice we don’t see a list that includes Sabbath keeping, avoidance of unclean meats or observing Holy Days.]

24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

[And with that, God bless you in your quest for His Truth.]

40 comments:

Bill said...

18It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. 19My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,

[Wait. What did he mean by that? “…until Christ is formed in you.”? Because earlier, he was asking how they had received the Spirit… Is he saying they no longer have the Spirit in them and thus is in the pains of childbirth until Christ is again formed in them?]

Perhaps is is a statement based in frustration in that he feels now he has to go back and cover this information "again" that they should have understood the first time:

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

The author of Hebrews makes a similar observation.

jack635 said...

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The fruit of the Spirit does not provide for "disfellowship", rather patience. Ronald Weinland and those like him, do not read the gospel for what it is. They search the scriptures for any sentence that can be manipulated into their cause. The common denominator of their cause is money.

When Ron says it hurts him to disfellowship someone, it is his revenue stream he is really talking about.

I love reading posts that discuss the gospel in undistorted truth.

Seeker Of Truth said...

Bill said...
"Perhaps [th]is is a statement based in frustration in that he feels now he has to go back and cover this information "again" that they should have understood the first time:.."

Perhaps, but why does he make the following statements?: saying, in Ga 3:10 that all who rely on observing the law are under a curse and,

in 4:10-11 says they are observing special days etc. and that he fears for them and,

in 21-31 tells them that those under the OC do not inherit the Kingdom with those of the NC and,

in 5:4 that those who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; and have fallen away from grace.

He said that those who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ and fallen away from grace.

So, when he says in 4:19 that he is again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in them, I cannot help but to think that they once had the spirit in them (3:2), but no longer do.

I have to ask: How can one have the Spirit in him and yet be alienated from Christ and fallen away from grace?

You can't be alienated from Christ if He's in you, can you?

Or does alienation from Christ mean, simply, that one still has Christ in him but has fallen from favor? I suppose it's possible but, I'm having trouble seeing how you can be alienated from Him while He is in you.

After all, we rely on Christ for our salvation under the NC but, under the OC, one relies on oneself for salvation, which is why Paul tells them in 5:2 that under the OC Christ will be of no value to them at all, and,

in 2:21 that if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

Seeker Of Truth said...

jack635 said...
"Ronald Weinland and those like him, do not read the gospel for what it is. They search the scriptures for any sentence that can be manipulated into their cause."

Hi Jack, thanks for sharing your thoughts!
I agree. This is something that bothers me deeply. So much so, that I have great difficulty controlling my anger, knowing that people are being mislead for the purpose of power and profit.

jack635 said...
"I love reading posts that discuss the gospel in undistorted truth."

Me too! There is excitement and joy in discovery and understanding of God's word! It is our true opportunity to truly get to know God!
Jer 30:21b " '...for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?' declares the LORD." (One of my favorite scriptures!)

How can we be close to Him if we don't know Him? How can we know Him if we don't let His Word speak for itself?

Moriah said...

Thanks a ton for posting this. It's funny, I read Galatians a short while back and was struck at how profoundly and plainly it spells out the simplicity of freedom in Christ, and how anyone--even in the cult of Armstrong/Ron Weinland--could read it and NOT get it. I was even motivated to copy it and mail it to my former elder, and now that I've seen you do a post on it here it's almost like, "Holy Spirit, are you nudging me?" Even if it doesn't work, it's worth a shot. Praise the Lord that you were inspired to do this!

Seeker Of Truth said...

Hi Moriah,

thanks for your comment! And you're welcome! We're always happy when an article here at ABD helps someone in any way.
I've always been a fan of "It's worth a shot!"

xHWA said...

jack - "When Ron says it hurts him to disfellowship someone, it is his revenue stream he is really talking about."

Agreed!!
Ron Weinland is a Christ peddler and a false prophet. In fact, if I should spell "prophet" as "profit" it would be just as accurate.

Bill said...

"
You can't be alienated from Christ if He's in you, can you? "

It's an interesting dilemma. It begs the question as to whether any such individual truly grasped the gospel and the consequences of the gospel to begin with.

It's also an interesting parallel with Adam and Eve and their naive rejection of faith. I wonder if they understood the consequences.

If we work from the premise that we are discussing people who do indeed possess the Holy Spirit, but they buy into the legalistic argument, then, as Paul declares, they are cut off; alienated from God and fall from grace. But then we have a promise from God that it is His work with those whom He gives His Spirit to, and as such, it is God's responsibility to bring such an one back to his senses.

I am of the "opinion" though that many begin with only a superficial understanding of the gospel; that they do not truly grasp the depth of it all, and that this does not constitute "belief" in the proper sense, where one understands its what God does and not what we do. We surrender. We understand we can never truly keep that law, and to even try is a futile act; an attempt to be like God is God based on our own efforts. It's like a monkey trying to emulate a man in the belief that somehow he will turn into a man.

Seeker Of Truth said...

Bill said...
"I am of the "opinion" though that many begin with only a superficial understanding of the gospel; that they do not truly grasp the depth of it all, and that this does not constitute "belief" in the proper sense, where one understands its what God does and not what we do."

I would agree that people begin with only a superficial understanding of the gospel. But how else could they begin? (Unless we're talking about people who know what's there and yet don't believe, and if that's the case, then they don't understand.)

But if returning to the legalistic, non faith-based OC is simply a matter of losing one's senses and does not remove the Spirit from an individual, then what was Paul so concerned about? Why did he fear for them? Why was he again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in them? What's the big deal? God just needs to bring them back to their senses, and Paul has nothing to worry about. Right? Nor does anyone. Right? Why is Paul carrying on so, if it's no big deal?

Or, perhaps the issue is though they possess the Spirit, and yet are alienated from Christ; fallen from grace, and though God merely needs to bring them back to their senses, they are in danger of losing the Holy Spirit, which leads me to ask: At what point is it taken away? And: What happens to them in the end? Pit? In the Kingdom, but not as the Bride?

Thoughts?... anyone?

xHWA said...

Seeker,

I really loved the way you hammered it home that one cannot simply remove the word "law" and insert the word "paganism" (I know that's not exactly how you put it, but that's the gist of it). No doubt that line of thinking is way off kilter and cannot stand up to the lightest scrutiny.
GOOD JOB!

Seeker Of Truth said...

Thanks xHWA. Much appreciated.

Luc said...

There are certain times when a group may be addressed as a unit, I experienced being scolded during my school years in a corporate fashion (lets say by the principle)wherein every one was included in the lecture rather or not every individual participated in the mischief that evoked the principled wrath.

The scolding would be in the order of. “you kids know how to behave, and I should not have to be concerned that you will embarrass our school by your lack of manners and self control. This class has been complimented for setting a good example before, when you were asked to do something you did it without complaint. Did you receive a good report by complaining and having a bad attitude.”

In this lecture, you can be certain that not every one behaved badly, and not every one complained, but in the corporate fashion, everyone is spoken to as if they were one of the offenders.

It’s only speculation, but this analogy may explain Gal 3:5 “Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? “ If the corporate mode of speaking to a group as a single unit doesn’t, then the allusion that some one can loose God’s spirit once having it conflicts with 1Jn 2:19 “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

And there is this on:
Rom 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. V29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. V30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

And of course there is this: Joh 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. V28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. V29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.”

I think God would be very careful about who he gave his spirit to because of the following: Heb 6:4 “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, Heb 6:5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, Heb 6:6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

Since God is omniscient, he would know who would fail, why would God take the chance of calling someone who isn’t ready? God can be working with some one without giving of his spirit to dwell within one Joh 14:17 “ the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. “Perhaps one having the spirit with them may fall out of grace and with greater understanding and experience return.

jack635 said...

Bill said:

We understand we can never truly keep that law, and to even try is a futile act;

That is a great truth. The true gravity of that statement struck me. I've never heard anyone say that before, and it is exactly the way I think about the law in my own mind. Although trying to keep the law could be reckoned as righteousness, it is ultimately futile.

I wonder if it should be used as the "51st Truth" on Ron's list. No , it's not in the same class of "truths", because it is a real truth.

Seeker Of Truth said...

Luc said...
"It’s only speculation, but this analogy may explain Gal 3:5 “Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?"

If this were the case, why would he not say "Did those who believed receive the spirit because they believed or because they observed the law? Why then are you turning back to the law?"

"V29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."

"Joh 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice;...no one can snatch them out of my hand."

If this means that those who returned to the law never had the HS in the first place, and were not predestined then Paul was worried for nothing.

"I think God would be very careful about who he gave his spirit to because of the following: Heb 6:4 “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, Heb 6:5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, Heb 6:6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”"

So then, again, it would mean they hadn't received the HS in the first place and Paul was worried for people who didn't belong to God in the first place.

"God can be working with some one without giving of his spirit to dwell within one Joh 14:17 “ the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." Perhaps one having the spirit with them may fall out of grace and with greater understanding and experience return."

So then, Paul would be addressing those who either didn't belong to God in the first place, meaning he was in fear for them needlessly, or those who did belong to Him, but didn't have the HS, but was referring to those who did, meaning he was actually saying, 'Did your fellow believers receive the HS by observing the law or because they believed?" i.e "Did the HS come down on this church because..." not meaning that those who had returned to the law had also received the HS. In which case, Paul was right to worried.
Is this what you're saying?

Bill said...

Let's beat on this horse a bit longer.

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? - Galatians 3:2

It sure appears to be Paul talking about those who have the Holy Spirit in them.

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? - Galatians 3:3

It doesn't sound like they were so much compromising the gospel by believing they "had" to keep the law in order to be saved, but rather, they thought their growth was enhanced by keeping the law.

I would remind all that the variations of arguments used to try and convince people to keep the law are numerous. It appears here that they were not attempting to keep the law as a means towards salvation, but rather as a means of self-improvement. Paul may well be arguing from the perspective of a "slippery slope" where their focus gets shifted from faith to the law very easily.

Paul goes on to describe the law in terms where it is applicable to those who are still children and immature instead of being a means of achieving greater holiness or "perfection"; a contrast to what he wrote in v.3.

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, - Galatians 4:19

The Transline Translation marginal notes indicate that Christ is not immediately formed (matured) in the believer; that it is a process of growth for all. The context then appears to be saying that these Galatians, instead of making progress towards this having Christ formed in them, were in fact losing ground; going the wrong way, and Paul now must "redo" what he did before, hence this "pains of childbirth" again.

They received the Holy Spirit because they believed through faith. The problem develops here when they are convinced that their spiritual growth towards becoming more Christ like; developing Christ in them, would be enhanced and improved by keeping that law. There is no loss of the Holy Spirit as a result. Paul brings them back to first base faith, and shows them that the law is the wrong way to go; their growth is not enhanced through the law; their growth is stunted by the law. The law was for the immature, and not for those seeking maturity.

Bill said...

Continuing with the same thought, Paul then really hammers home the facts concerning trying to live by that law; the results of living by that law in terms of justification, etc. He does not come right out and say they are keeping the law as a means of justification, but there isn't far to go in that direction once you fall for whatever argument that was put forth for you to justify keeping the law in the first place.

The law would become a greater focus over time, resulting in faith becoming less of a focus.

So I see this as Paul "nipping it in the bud" as it were, explaining to them where all this will lead if they persist in keeping the law.

Can we look to our own examples? What happened to you or others you knew who really put an emphasis on keeping that law to the best of one's ability? Did it result in that one truly becoming a better person, or did that one get to the point that they were mad at others for being so lax about keeping the law? My observation has been along that line. Those who were the most dedicated in keeping the law were the more unloving and unforgiving ones. The more one tried to keep the law, the further away from what God really wants of a person they got. Keeping the law; being dedicated to that law results in one moving further and further away from faith and what is attendant to faith.

xHWA said...

Awesome debate, people! It's great to see!

I think we may be over thinking this a bit.

Perhaps the phrase "until Christ is formed in them" is an expression of Spiritual maturity in its latter stages (EPH. 4: 13). Something, I might mention, that most of us (especially myself) have not achieved as of yet even though I will proclaim before the world that I see God's Spirit in you people.

This is something they have to grow into, but Paul is frustrated at the "one step forward, two steps back" progress. Much like the author of Hebrews was, as Bill mentioned (I COR. 3: 2; HEB. 5: 12-13; 6: 1-2).

(HEB. 5: 12) "You need someone to teach you AGAIN"

I do not personally think that having the HS in you is synonymous with Christ being formed in us. The former is a catalyst, and the latter the goal.
For example, Cornelius received the HS before he was even baptized. Can we say Christ was formed in him at that point? No. He was a good man for sure, but far from having Christ formed in him (by my understanding of the phrase).

Remember, Paul put people out of the congregation on more than one occasion so they could be corrected by of all people Satan and then hopefully return better than ever (II COR. 2: 3-7; I TIM. 1: 19-20).
It seems to me that we can progress, then regress. It doesn't please God, but it doesn't annul our salvation either.

Why Paul is so worked up over the legalism thing is a bit of a mystery. But to turn to legalism betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the Covenants and Christ's work. Perhaps Bill is on to something with the not understanding consequences thing. God appears to be very big into sticking with your commitments no matter what. And the OC, one of slavery, is certainly a commitment!

Another verse comes to mind:
(I TIM. 1: 8) But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully

So, the law itself is good. Perhaps what Paul is driving at isn't the commitment at all, but the extra baggage. If you read I TIM. 1: 3-7, slavery to the OC isn't the only problem. There is arrogance, strife, disputes, etc. And these will lead to a fall from grace.

(I COR. 15: 33) Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

Bill - "The law would become a greater focus over time, resulting in faith becoming less of a focus."

I agree that this WILL be a result of legalism. I lived that. I know the two main ends are 1) False pride, or 2) Frustrated failure. Because we focus on us and not Christ.

Seeker - "At what point is it taken away?"

I've asked this same question a thousand times this past year. I don't believe in "Once Saved Always Saved". It's a good fuzzy warm idea, but it doesn't work (HEB. 6: 7). John mentioned a sin that leads to death (JOHN 5: 16-17).
Many people believe that is the total abandonment of faith after faith has come in. Knowingly and voluntarily rejecting Christ after "tasting the heavenly gift", if you will. And that kind cannot be restored (HEB. 6: 4-6).
So, in my current understanding, I would answer that knowingly, deliberately rejecting God after having been saved and experiencing the Spirit is when salvation is revoked.

xHWA said...

I hope everyone understands that I am not trying to minimize anything with what I said. Anything that separates us from God should be strenuously avoided.

All unrighteousness is sin.. it's hateful to God. God tells us who He is. For brief moments (when we sin) we despises that. This should not be! (Thank God Almighty for His undeserved mercy and forgiveness through Jesus.) I hope nothing I say minimizes the ugliness of sin.

If Paul says legalism separates me from Christ - even in the slightest bit - God forbid! May He have mercy on all who do such a thing unknowingly.

But I like this debate none the less. These are important questions.

Luc said...

Seeker-"If this means that those who returned to the law never had the HS in the first place, and were not predestined then Paul was worried for nothing."

If Paul believed that someone had arrived (received the HS), as I have believed, and then found out later that they hadn't; wouldn't he be disturbed? I was. My brother became a Hindu. From WCG to Hinduism, how does that figure? I hope he never had the HS.

XHWA-"I don't believe in "Once Saved Always Saved". It's a good fuzzy warm idea, but it doesn't work"

No one can prove that their is no falling from redemption, but if God is in control, I think he is capable of maximizing the chances of success 2Pe 3:9 "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

xHWA said...

Luc - "I think he is capable of maximizing the chances of success"

I completely agree! (I need it.)

Just because I don't believe a thing doesn't make me right. I could be wrong. I'd prefer to be wrong!!! But I just don't see OSAS as being valid.
It appears to me that there is a sin unto death, and that the warning about not being able to restore a person again would not have been given if there was no possibility of it.

Luc said...

Even if my brother never had the HS, his lack of understanding of who Jesus is, and why he should seek him is disturbing in that even if he is eventually saved, he may loose out on what Jesus offers to those who believe in him now without a sign. He may have chosen the low road. Shouldn't we be disturbed when people we know choose a lesser path than we would like them to . Don't you wish the better things for your loved ones?

And there is no question that some are destined for Hell, but if God calls some one, I can't see God calling one who is so destined. If the call isn't answered now, a time will come when no doubt remains of God's reality, and of what the choices are, and answering will be unavoidable.

Bill said...

OSAS is something I have bounced back and forth on for quite awhile. Here's what I have on it so far:

A Christian is now saved. The Holy Spirit is the earnest of that salvation and eternal life. If one has the Son, one has life.

Can such a person lose salvation?

Theoretically, yes. Realistically, no. God put forth this process and progression in regards to law and faith before us to learn from. We see both sides of the coin, as it were.

So, in theory, one can turn their back on God and perish, but the process precludes that as being likely. Otherwise, what do we have? A flawed process that God put in place; a process that He cannot step in and rectify if things start to go sour for one who now belongs to Him; one of His children.

So it comes down to possible but not probable. Can you imagine yourself, after all you have been through, turning your back now on God and abandoning faith in Him? I can't. Also, I am not about to assign a short arm to God in this process. If He knows the end from the beginning, there would be no reason or purpose of calling someone to repentance knowing full well they will reject it later.

Seeker Of Truth said...

I'm sure some of you know, or have guessed what this is all about. I mean, why I am asking these kinds of questions. Family members. And some of us do have family members in Armstrongism. And of course, we worry.

So that's the issue I'm concerned about. And that's why these specific questions.

You've all given me some good stuff to mull over. I'm going to look at the scriptures you've offered up, pray, and contemplate. Then I'll respond further. Hopefully later this evening.

I appreciate everyone's input greatly! Thank you.

xHWA said...

Bill - "So it comes down to possible but not probable."

This is an interesting thing you mention. I find I agree with it.

"Can you imagine yourself, after all you have been through, turning your back now on God and abandoning faith in Him? I can't."

No. I cannot imagine turning my back on Him after the experiences I've had this year. I can't fathom wanting a life of the empty pleasures of sin more than the unspeakable joy I've felt.

I also cannot imagine putting back on the shackles of the Old Covenant over being with you all, my friends, in grace, for eternity.

Seeker Of Truth said...

So I think I've gotten some answers... but I'm also left with more questions.

Based on what I've gotten from your comments, it seems clear to me that Paul is speaking to those who have the HS, and that this fear of Paul's could be a matter of slipping from faith to deep into legalism.

The questions now are:

- What is it that Paul fears?
- Many called, few chosen
- OSAS or not OSAS?
- Predestined
- How do you know if someone's called, or was once enlightened?
- Heb 6:4-6 Fall away in what way? eg David/Satan

Examination:

- what is it that Paul fears?
Is it slipping from faith to legalism? I'll come back to question in a bit.

- Many called, few chosen
Many are called but few are chosen. Why? How does that fit into predestination and 'No one can snatch them from His hands'?

- Predestined
We are told that we are foreknown by God and predestined. How does this fit into the Many Called, Few Chosen thing?

- OSAS or not OSAS?
So then, what of being predestined?
What of 'No one can snatch them out of my hand?
This all brings us back to: What is it that Paul fears?

- How do you know if someone's called, or was once enlightened?
While we were in Armstongism, were we called? Or is being called what brought us out of it?
This makes me think of Paul persecuting Christians until Jesus called to him, at which point he turned and began to preach Christ. Which leads me to think that we left Armstongism because at point in time we had been called.
And no one comes to Jesus unless the Father calls him. So has one come to Jesus if one is in legalism?

- Heb 6:4-6 Fall away in what way? eg David/Satan
David committed adultery and murdered, yet he was a man after God's heart.
Satan rebelled and tried to take the throne. How far does one fall away before he cannot be brought back to repentance? And the author suggests here that one can have the HS taken away.

So I guess the biggest source of confusion for me is: What is it that Paul fears if they slip deep into legalism? And: OSAS or not OSAS? Which is why I ask the above questions.

Either I'm missing something, or I'm left with taking the word of Jesus over that of the author of Hebrews.

I feel I'm getting a little closer to answers and look forward to more input from you all!

xHWA said...

I like this paragraph from Darby's commentary about what really happens when we turn to the law:

"It is only to add something to Christ. But what? If it is not Christ and the new man, it is the old man, it is sinful man; and, instead of a needed and accomplished redemption, and an entirely new life from above, you have a testimony that agreement between the two is possible; that grace is not necessary, except at most as a little help; that man is not already lost and dead in his trespasses and sins, that the flesh is not essentially and absolutely evil. Thus the name of Christ is made subservient to the flesh, which willingly adorns itself with the credit of His name, in order to destroy the gospel from its very foundations. Only preach circumcision, accept the religion of the flesh, and all difficulty will cease; the world will accept your gospel, but it will not be the gospel of Christ. The cross in itself (that is, the total ruin of man — man proved to be the enemy of God), and perfect finished redemption by grace, will always be a stumbling-block to one who desires to maintain some credit for the flesh. "Would to God," says the apostle — for he sees the whole gospel falling into ruin before this device, and souls destroyed — "would to God that they who trouble you were cut off!" What have we seen since then? Where is the holy indignation of the apostle?"

Bill said...

"David committed adultery and murdered, yet he was a man after God's heart.
Satan rebelled and tried to take the throne. How far does one fall away before he cannot be brought back to repentance? And the author suggests here that one can have the HS taken away."

Satan's rebellion was an act of abandoning faith in God for faith in Himself. David, despite the horrible sins that are associated with the human, carnal nature, did not abandon faith in God. There is actually a pretty deep lesson to learn here.

xHWA said...

Seeker - "- How do you know if someone's called, or was once enlightened?"

1) By their fruits you shall know them.

2) I don't care to. I can't KNOW, I can't judge them if I did know, so I only work to ensure I am in Christ (and I help others as I am able). Everyone else I give them the benefit of the doubt and let Christ sort us out.

Anonymous said...

E.W. Bullinger, the famous 19th century writer, whom Armstrong took without acknowledgement about half of his doctrine from Bullinger's Companion bible, offers these keen insites on the inter-relation between the books of Romans, Corinthians, and Galations:
ROMANS (my paraphrase) is Paul's declaration of What the Gospel is--it is "THE GOSPEL OF GOD--the ABC's of the believer's education." Corinthians represent "reproof letters"--reproof for practical failure to live up to and exhibit the teachings of Romans, or (the Gospel). Galations more seriously is a "correctional letter", concerning DOCTRINAL failure as to the doctrinal teaching of Romans, or The Gospel.

The point is, like the Corinthians, we've all experienced practical failure in being swept up with glorying in the flesh---I am of so and so--look at whom I'm associated with--look at my gifts and talents and what I can do with them, etc. This failure to practice the truth is bad enough in itself, but for those who tremble at the word, it is correctable. BUT what happens when this failure becomes "DOCTRINE"? -- When this practical failure actually becomes THE PRACTICE? In short, it becomes "another gospel" and the dangers of falling away are evident.
"Losing the spirit" is not a simple matter of an individual Christian making mistakes, but being on a corporate and direct opposite doctrinal path of the true gospel found in the book of Romans, is where the true danger lies. This is what Paul was concerned with. Practical failure was no longer considered failure--but duty!! Wow!

Bill said...

This makes me think of Paul persecuting Christians until Jesus called to him, at which point he turned and began to preach Christ.

Paul was not "called." Paul was chosen; a chosen vessel.

Many are called. Many hear the call to repentance, but the many make no response. Mt. 13 seems appropriate in this context. Also:

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: - Acts 17:30

It appears to be a progression. God calls. Many hear but few respond. The few become the chosen.

xHWA now celebrates one year of freedom in Christ. I'm now celebrating 10 years such freedom, as it took me about 4 years previous to that to work out the bugs, as it were, for there were none to truly help in the process at that time other than Exit and Support Network.

xHWA said...

Anonymous 8-29-09 10:19 AM

LOVED that comment. Very insightful. I love the way that was worded.

"BUT what happens when this failure becomes "DOCTRINE"? -- When this practical failure actually becomes THE PRACTICE? In short, it becomes "another gospel" and the dangers of falling away are evident."

"This is what Paul was concerned with. Practical failure was no longer considered failure--but duty!!"

Wow Indeed!!!

Luc said...

I too appreciate your comment anonymous, I kinda wish you weren't anonymous however.

Anonymous said...

Okay guys---I understand the need to be properly identified. From now on I will refer to myself as
"ANON 15:5".

Seeker Of Truth said...

Bill said...

(Seeker said..."This makes me think of Paul persecuting Christians until Jesus called to him, at which point he turned and began to preach Christ.)

Paul was not "called." Paul was chosen; a chosen vessel.


Actually, I said: Called to.

Acts 9:4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5 Who are you, Lord? Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied.

But... to be chosen, you must be called.

Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

gracefully said...

What a great article! I'm still making my way through much of the writings on this blog. I like how you've broken things down very simply, this has helped me immensely in my quest for understanding and truth.

gracefully said...

By the way, I've learned a lot just from reading all the comments. Should I be fearful that I have young children who still attend a COG? Fearful of their salvation, I mean.

xHWA said...

gracefullyfree,

Should you be worried? In my personal opinion, yes. There is a very real danger that Paul mentions of falling from grace and Christ being of no value.

What can you do? In my personal opinion, pray for God's intervention.
An intellectual argument may plant a seed, but it won't win them over. Answer their questions if they ask, but don't badger them. If what we receive is from God, neither you nor any other human being can give it to them, but God only.
And in my experience, He'll answer your prayers at a time and in a way you don't expect.

So, love them, pray for them, and patiently wait for God in hope and trust (even if you don't live to see the day.)

Sorry for sounding so preachy.

xHWA said...

BTW... Seeker,
This really is a seriously good study into Galatians. It was really good when you wrote it and it's still really good. I'll bet it will still be really good the next time I read it, too.

I thank God for giving this to us through you. Excellent job.

Seeker Of Truth said...

Gracefully,

It makes us so very happy when we hear that others are being helped. That's our goal & it's very encouraging to hear! Thank you.

Seeker Of Truth said...

xHWA,

I know! Huh? I just read it again & told God "I'm humbled." Because it was clearly Him!