“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.”
Verse 8 here ought to make plain to all who is the one, in chapter 1, verse 6, that called them into the grace of Christ. Some are inclined to hold that Paul refers to himself in that scripture, in the words, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” They think that Paul is marveling that the Galatians should be so soon removed from himself; because they think that Paul was the one who called the Galatians into the grace of Christ. But this is a mistake. Paul did not draw men to himself: and this for the simple reason that he did not preach himself. He preached Christ—Christ and him crucified, and Christ crucified in every place where Paul preached. Consequently, men saw Christ instead of Paul—Christ with themselves, just where they were. And Christ, being thus lifted up in person, drew men to himself. And since, even in that, it is forever true that no man can come to Christ except the Father draw him, it is evident that in this work of the grace of Christ it is God who called these people into the grace of Christ. And when men come to them, preaching another gospel, which was not another, but was a perversion of the gospel of Christ, as many as trusted in that false gospel were, by that, removed, not from Paul, but from Christ, who had drawn them to himself; and from God, who had called them into the grace of Christ, which drew them to himself.
And thus verse 8 of the present study—“This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you”—shows that it could not refer to Paul; because he had not been near to them, so that the persuasion could be an alternative between them and the others. But God was present with them, with his persuasion and his calling, so that whatever persuasion and calling were against that gospel which they had at first heard, could not possibly come from him who had called them, who was God.
“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whomsoever he be. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you.”
As we saw in last week’s study, if he had preached circumcision, it would have been but to put circumcision in the place of Christ; and that, in itself, would have been to reject the grace of Christ, Christ and him crucified; and so the offense of the cross would have ceased, and the persecution with it, in the preaching of circumcision.
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Every soul, in being called unto Christ, is called to liberty; and every soul who receives Christ is delivered from bondage, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Jesus Christ came into the world only to set men free, and to plant in their souls the genuine principle of liberty. And this liberty with which Christ makes men free is liberty actuated only by love. It is a liberty too honorable to allow itself to be used as an occasion to the flesh, or as a cloak of maliciousness. It is a liberty led by a conscience enlightened by the Spirit of God. It is a liberty in which he who has it, is made free from all men; yet it makes him who receives it so gentle by love that he willingly becomes the servant of all, in order to bring them to the enjoyment of that same liberty. This is freedom indeed: this is the freedom which Christ gives to whomsoever believes in him; for “whom the Son makes free is free indeed.”
And thus “all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” This, because all that law, of which this “one word” is but one of the two great principles upon which the whole hangs, —that law is itself “the law of liberty.”
This is Christianity: this is the gospel and the liberty of the gospel. “But if ye bite and devour one another,” —if so ye repudiate the gospel and deny the liberty, which it brings: if ye be critical, narrow, and intolerant, —“take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” For that is the only consequence that can come of such a course, with utter destruction at the last.
[Advent Review and Sabbath Herald | September 11, 1900]