what then has become of your blessedness? for i testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. have i then become your enemy by telling you the truth? [galatians 4:15-16]
the galatian church, just like so many others we read about in the epistles, just like so many in the church today, received the gospel with gladness. they had demonstrated thankful hearts that they had a message of hope in Christ. they had demonstrated zeal in hospitality and generosity. they had treated paul with honor because of the precious gift of truth he had brought.
so now what? why were they now demonstrating ungratefulness and turning to a different gospel? why were they now forgetting hope in Christ? why were they now pointing fingers at one another divisively and comparing works for worth? why were they wavering in the truth?
Jesus answers these questions in matthew 13:3-9. and he told them many things in parables, saying: “a sower went out to sow. and as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. and since they had no root, they withered away. other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. he who has ears, let him hear.”
he then explains his parable in verses 18-23. “hear then the parable of the sower: when anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. this is what was sown along the path. as for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. as for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. he indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
we know that our adoption in Christ is permanent. paid for by the blood of Christ, proven by his resurrection from the dead, and sealed by the Holy Spirit. if we are truly His, we are forever His. we will never be re-condemned, we will never lose our salvation. i pray that you are living in this assurance. [john 10:28-29, john 6:38-40, rom 8:1, eph 1:13-14, phil 1:6, heb 6:17-20]
but Jesus explains in these parables that it is common for someone to receive the truth of the gospel outwardly, get caught up in the excitement, experience the beauty of the work the Lord is doing in the church, to look a lot like a believer… and then to fall away because they are not actually his. many people hear the gospel with their ears. just like the soil in the parable, the ones who keep and yield the fruit of faith in Christ until they die or until Christ returns will show the genuineness of their heart change. we’ve all seen many walk away. many we thought surely were his. many we love dearly. and we pray diligently, we continue to show them the beauty of Christ, knowing that while today is still called today, it is not too late.
this is precisely what paul is doing with this letter to the galatians. pleading with them to return to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. boldly yet lovingly, he is calling them to repentance. he once saw evidence of fruit, and convinced in his mind that it was genuine, he is not giving up.
is there someone in your life to whom you need to be a paul?
do you need a paul?
Father, i thank you for the blood of Jesus Christ, the steadfast anchor of my soul, in whom my eternal life is secure. keep my faith pure, i pray. help me to cling to Christ and nothing else. for the sake of your great name, keep me to the end. amen.