(Originally Our Schoolmaster)
Well how does Mobile, Alabama sound today?” I suggested Tuesday morning as we finished breakfast.
“Where is that?” Joel asked.
“About 95 miles from here,” I answered. “93 to be more exact.”
“Sounds interesting,” Felicity stated. “Are we ready?”
* * * * *
“Good evening, Amos,” David greeted us that evening.
“Door keeper, again?” I asked.
“I guess,” he laughed.
“So I’ve got a weird question,” I stated. “Where do you all stay?”
“Pastor’s,” David replied. “We’re staying with the pastor and his family; Antoine and his family stay with the Martins. Jesse and his wife are staying with the McCarthys (the pianist and his family), Peter’s just got a hotel room, the Shelleys and Matthew are staying with the Stantons; I guess that’s it.”
“So did the Martins offer to film the conference or did Antoine hire them?”
“Yes and no,” David began. “During the time we were setting up the conference, Ed Martin offered to help somehow or other. Antoine took up Ed’s offer to house the Millers, and Antoine had all the equipment. Since the Martins were the media people for the church, Antoine and Ed worked out something for filming.”
“So where did everyone come from?” Felicity asked.
“Matt’s all the way from Oregon,” David said. “Dan and Peter are from Texas; Jesse’s from—one of the Dakotas; South Dakota, I think—Antoine’s from southern Kansas and I’m from Colorado.”
“So how’d you all get here?” I asked, watching as my children played with the others. Daniel and his family had arrived, which added a few more children.
“Pastor contacted Matt,” David began. “Matt pastors a church up there along with a mission of some sort or another for the fishermen. Matt knew Jes from another conference. Jesse’s daughter married Dan Shelley, so Jes called him. Dan pastors a church near Wichita Falls; Pete runs a church in Toyah; he’s Dan’s cousin.
“Pete knew Antoine through a film project they both had worked on, and Antoine’s wife, Anna, is my third cousin on my dad’s side, so it all ran together.”
“Okay,” I chuckled, thinking about David’s story.
The prelude began. “We’ll talk to you later,” I said as we moved to find our seats.
Pastor Mast stepped to the pulpit a couple of minutes later and opened with a hymn and a word of prayer. After the love offering and another hymn, Peter Burkholder stepped to the pulpit.
“Good evening,” Peter said. “My text is Galatians 3:23-27. And by the way, Brother Yoder mentioned shorthand last night. That reminds me of something someone told me a year or two ago. This young man told me he had eleven fingers. I said, ‘No one has eleven fingers.’ He said, ‘Yes I do. Watch.’ And began counting his fingers: ‘One-eight, two-eight, three-eight, four-eight, five-eight, six-eight, seven-eight, nine-eight, ten-eight, eleven-eight.’ Now, of course, he had only ten, but I thought about this yesterday: Brother Antoine mentioned ‘Turtles’ on Sunday. Some people read the Bible and imagine that they can support Eternal InSecurity; obedience to be saved; twisted views of Israel; strange eschatological opinions, etc. I guess we should ask them if they have eleven fingers!”
“Galatians 3,” Peter said. “Verses 23 through 27:
‘But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.’
“My topic is titled ‘Our Schoolmaster’. God gave Moses and the children of Israel the law. Exodus records these events. Galatians 3:19 says, ‘Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.’ God gave the law for two reasons: one to show people how perfect they’d have to be to get to Heaven by their good works, thereby proving it impossible, and to show people that they must look to Jesus alone for salvation. ‘Wherefore then serveth the law?’ Paul asks, ‘It was added because of transgressions.’ God gave them the law because of their sin because, as Romans 3:20 says, ‘by the law is the knowledge of sin.’ Paul said in Romans 7, you remember, Romans 7:7 that he ‘had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet’. The law defined sin and then told you that you to do this sacrifice or that sacrifice to fix it.
“But,” Peter continued, “Hebrews 10:1 says, ‘For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.’ According to the law, there were different sacrifices for different sins. But the sacrifices didn’t do any good, especially as time went on when the Jews did it more as a religious form instead of a way of life. Brother Miller mentioned obedience; God wanted them to obey Him, but as we know, they didn’t. James tells us, in James 2:10, ‘For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.’ One preacher put it this way: He was talking about the parable of the man going from Jerusalem to Jericho who was attacked by the thieves in Luke chapter 10, you remember? The priest was too holy to mess with the man; and here comes a Levite. Now the Levites were the ones that didn’t get land, but their responsibility was to teach the people the law and such. Look at Luke 10:32, ‘And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.’ This Levite looked at him, and then walked away. That’s what the law does; it looks at us, says, ‘Wow, you’re sure wicked! See ya!’ It takes God’s mercy through His Son to help us.
“So this is why Paul says, here in Galatians 3:22, ‘But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.’ Because no one could perfectly keep the law, Jesus had to come down to pay the price. So the law was our schoolmaster to teach us that we needed to look to Jesus for salvation. ‘the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ’ the Bible says.
“A schoolmaster teaches things,” Peter continued. “Most of you probably went to school—you know what happens when you’re done? You graduate? What happens when you graduate? You’re done with school! Some of you young people are probably looking forward to that day, since when you’re done with school, you no longer have to learn the subjects.
“But Paul says, ‘after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.’ Paul says that after Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, faith came and we graduated from school. Some people, like Brother Miller mentioned on Sunday, don’t know that I guess. Now that we’ve graduated, however, we have to look back to Christ for salvation.
“Galatians 4:1-4 and 13 says this, ‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
“‘For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.’
“You see, once we’re saved, we have been set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2) and have graduated from the school of the law of Moses. Now we live in and walk in the Spirit, ‘for the letter [that is, the law] killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.’ And ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).
“In conclusion,” Peter stated, “we see Galatians 3:26 and 27, ‘For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.’ Romans 8:14-17 says, ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.’ When a person is saved, they become children of God. So all of God’s children have graduated from school. I believe it was Brother Jes that mentioned baptism; here Paul says that as many as have been baptized into Christ (after a solid profession of faith, of course) have put on Christ. I praise God for this: We’ve graduated from the law, have received God’s grace, and have become children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s pray.
“Father we thank You for Your mercy; that we have become Your children. We thank You that we have graduated, and have been adopted into Your family; all the pork included. Help us to live for You, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”